Friday, October 29, 2010

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok~★★★★

Author: Jean Kwok
Title: Girl in Translation
Release Date: April 29th, 2010
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "When eleven-year-old Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to America, they speak little English and own nothing but debt. They arrive in New York hopeful for a better life, but find instead a squalid Brooklyn apartment lacking heat and real furniture, and a life of backbreaking labor in a Chinatown sweatshop. Unable to accept this as her future, Kim decides to use her 'talent for school' to earn a place for herself and her mother in their adopted country. Disguising the most difficult truths in her life---her staggering poverty, the weight of her family's expectations, and the true depths of her culture confusion---she embarks on a double life: an exceptional student by day, and a sweatshop worker by evening and weekend. In time, Kim learns to translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the two worlds she straddles. 
For all of her adult pressures, thought, she is still a girl---vulnerable to the same piercing envy and anxiety, and most of all, first love. As her hard-won future is threatened by her feelings for a kind boy in the factory who shares none of her talent or ambition, we feel both the ache of her love for him and the fear that she will lose everything for which she has fought so hard. 
Written in an unforgettable voice that dramatizes all the tensions of a girl growing up between two worlds, Girl in Translation is an inspiring debut about a young immigrant in America, a touching love story, and a window onto a world rarely seen with such clarity. Through Kimberly Chang, we feel the shock and struggles of recent immigrants, and see how these experiences can ultimately shape a life and the choices made along the way. It's a remarkable novel, a deeply moving story of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation."  

Taryn's Review: This was a book that totally engaged me once I got into the core of it. It began a little slow and I actually quit the book at page 43 the first night I began to read it. The next night after I picked it up and began reading, I looked down and saw I was on page 160! I definitely got better the further I got into the book.

Jean Kwok did a fantastic job on her first novel. Kimberly was such a well-written character that I was really able to connect with her and the more I read, I more wanted to know what was going to happen next.  The cultural and language barriers that Kimberly encountered were thought-provoking and Kwok did such phenomenal work highlighting how those aspects can be a real struggle for immigrants in a new country.

The factory/sweatshop that Kim and her mother were forced to work in was owned by Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who was Kimberly's mother's sister. The conditions were awful and the pay was little more than pure show. Sometimes we like to think that here in the good old USA these things don't happen, but I am glad that Kwok included this perspective in her book. 

The end of the book was not at all what I expected, but at the same time, I felt like it made sense to Kimberly's character and the life she wanted. I really enjoyed the book and it was great to be sucked into this book's story. It was a great escape for the time it took to read it and I'd highly recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. do you think that they used some translate english to spanish services further? i can help you on that... this is pretty amazing!

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