Girl in Translation is a Winner

BlogHer Review

From the beginning through the end of Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation I lived the life of Kimberly Chang, a young Hong Kong immigrant who came to New York with her mother. Both had high expectations that they would find opportunities and a better life.

I cried as she and her mother’s dreams of working for her aunt and uncle were shattered. Instead of the American Dream, both were relegated to a life of abject poverty when they quickly learned her aunt lied to them. They were left to live in a condemned and unheated apartment chosen by Kimberly’s self-serving aunt. Despite their disappointment, Chinese pride was more important than their expressing feelings and they made the best with what they had.

At just 11 years old, Kimberly began working long hours beside her mother in her aunt and uncle’s sweatshop. Feeling ridiculed at school for her lack of proper clothing and inability to communicate well in English, she spent much of her academic years alone. As an added insult, Kimberly and her mother came home to a cold, roach- and rodent-infested apartment.

When Kimberly achieved academically beyond her American classmates, my heart soared with hers, and I felt her glimmer of hope that she might some day climb out of the dark, lonely life of American slavery.

With one close friend, a wealthy girl named Annette, Kimberly was able to bear the insults and disparity of life as a poor Chinese girl. Another friend, Matt, who was also employed at the sweatshop with his mother, grew close to her and later became her one true love.

While disappointment is rampant in Kimberly’s life, and she is faced with many tough choices, I was excited to see that in the end, she achieved her dreams, and made a decision that forever changed her life.

The book is engaging, believable and easy to read. Written in Kimberly’s voice, I felt drawn into her life and cheering for her success along the way.


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