The novel may be fiction, but Girl in Translation is the real story of many immigrants. The story of how families hurt each other, even when there is love there. The story of bone crushing poverty and the ability of the rich and even just the slightly less poor to turn a blind eye – it couldn’t be that bad.
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The first three sentences of the prologue in Jean Kwok's novel Girl in Translation intrigued and hooked me. “I was born with a talent. Not for dance, or comedy, or anything so delightful. I’ve always had a knack for school.” Instantly, I related to the protagonist, Kimberly, as I also have had a knack for school. Read more >
Remember back in high school, when you thought you had it hard because you were wearing the wrong brand of jeans? Imagine not only having the wrong brand of jeans, but no jeans at all -- and a mother who is so poor and so alone in the world, she has to make your underwear for you from scraps of fabric stolen from the sweatshop where she works. And so we meet Kimberly Chang in Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation. Location
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Girl in Translation is a strong debut novel by Jean Kwok. While the book is not strictly autobiographical, it does mimic in many ways Kwok's own experience as a young girl trying to survive the harsh reality of immigration for Chinese in New York City. Read more >
I’ll be honest -- I wasn’t eager to read another story about a first-generation immigrant assimilating into American culture, which is the subject of Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation. It’s a story that has been told before (The Joy Luck Club, The Namesake, etc.) and a story that I have read before. Enjoyable and teachable, yes, but overdone? Maybe. Read more >
At heart, Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok almost seems to be a modern-day fairy tale. Set around the turn of the millenium, this story about a young girl newly emigrated to New York from Hong Kong has all of the classic ingredients: brilliant, hardworking heroine, crushing poverty and unthinkable living conditions, a few kind souls who offer salvation just when hope is at its most dim. And yet this is no fairy tale. Read more >
It took me about two days to read Girl in Translation, and I was sad to say goodbye. I couldn't get enough of the irrepressible Kimberly Chang and her mother. I felt their every humiliation and frustration acutely. I was right there with Kimberly, bemoaning her setbacks and celebrating her victories. Read more >
Some of the language in Jean Kwok's debut novel Girl in Translation may sound similar to some phrases from a certain other book by another Chinese American author, but the world portrayed in this book could not be farther from the piano and violin lessons that have become synonymous with Asian American childhood.
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There are certain indecencies I can’t imagine. Chief among them would be living in a roach and rat infested apartment, which has no heat, while earning a mere $2/hour for sweatshop labor. However, as a mother, I can easily understand doing whatever is necessary to give your child a better life. Read more >