Jean Kwok's searing, debut novel, Girl in Translation, reduces Kimberly Chang’s life to the piteous value of Chinatown, sweatshop piecework. 59 skirts for a book at the dime store, 133 skirts for a $2 plastic plant. Read more >
Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation is all its title suggests. Ah-Kim (Kimberly) Chang is a Chinese immigrant living in debt and squalor in a roach-infested, unheated New York City apartment with her non-English-speaking mother. Kimberly is very young when the story begins. She struggles to master English, navigate her public school and work long hours with her mother in a sweatshop run by her somewhat evil aunt.
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As an unreformed school nerd with a passion for American labor and immigrant history, I really wanted to like Jean Kwok's debut novel Girl in Translation, but she never quite sold me on the story. Read more >
One of the blurbs I read about Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation compared it to one of my favorite books: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The comparison is perfect -- intelligent, driven Brooklyn girl works hard to help her family and herself escape overwhelming poverty. Considering my love for Francie Nolan, my immediate affection for Girl in Translation's heroine, Kim Chang, shouldn’t be a surprise. Read more >
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok is your typical "rags to riches" book, but it gives you the nitty gritty details that no one else ever tells. You get all the aspects of Kimberly's life, from her struggles with school and the barrier of different languages to the hardships of holding onto family values. Read more >
The book rolled on quiet easily for me. Jean Kwok's writing was great, the story was incredibly interesting and I simply had to know what happened. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. Well, I should probably rephrase, Girl in Translation rolled on quite easily until I slammed into the last few chapters.
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Reading is my escape, the one thing that removes me from reality (AKA MOMdom). That's quite a bit of pressure to put on books, I realize, but in my world a book is only good if it succeeds in taking me away. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, succeeded with doing just that. This book provided me with a promising open canvas at first bend and crack of the book. Read more >
Living in a foreign country for three years made me wonder how anyone can move to the United States without speaking English and manage to survive -- let alone succeed -- and reading Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok reinforced that notion. From the moment we meet the protagonist, Kim, we see America through her eyes. Kim is immediately likeable and I found myself stealing moments in my day to find out what would happen next. Read more >
I fell asleep late one night after reading the first forty pages of Jean Kwok’s debut novel, Girl in Translation. I dreamt of roaches and mice scurrying across my prostrate body as I lay unable to escape them. The next morning I awoke exhausted and unsettled. Read more >
I am just about the same age as is Jean Kwok, the author of Girl in Translation. And she and I both spent our preteen and teen years in New York City. But every day after school I came home to a comfortable apartment, where I did homework in my own bedroom, a room filled with books and toys and all manner of school supplies, and where at six or so every evening I was called to dinner, at which there was always enough food. More than enough. My mother always prepared for twice the number of people dining as there actually were. Jean Kwok? Or Kimberly, the name of her alter in Girl in Translation? After school every day she travels by subway to Chinatown to join her mother in her never-ending work at a sweatshop. Read more >