Thursday, September 04, 2014

Book Review: Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok

Girl in Translation
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings.  Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about.  Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation  is an unforgettable and classic American immigrant novel-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I really enjoyed how this story begins with Kimberly as a young girl coming to America to a young woman that has adapted in America.  Her story made me think of my own story of coming to the U.S. and all the things you have to go through, especially in school to fit in.  I came to the U.S. from Central America when I was 9 years old not speaking any English.  Like Kimberly I was put in a normal classroom where I did not understand any of the students and teachers,  I didn't dress how they dressed and I just didn't fit it.  Although my financial situation was better off than hers.  But her mother's superstitions reminded me of my mom.  I really enjoyed the book, although I was not too happy about the ending.

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