From the author of Searching for Sylvie Lee, the iconic, New York Times-bestselling debut novel that introduced an important Chinese-American voice with an inspiring story of an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures.
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 novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
When 11-year-old Kimberly and her mother move from Hong Kong to New York in the ’80s, they dream of Times Square’s glittering lights and a life full of opportunities. Instead, they end up working in a sweatshop and living in a roach-infested, unheated Brooklyn apartment. Author Jean Kwok draws on her own experiences as a young immigrant to write Girl in Translation, which makes her heroine’s inner life feel intimately and unflinchingly real. Weaving in Cantonese slang and cultural nuances, Kwok cleverly illuminates the disconnects between Chinese and American culture. Her moving novel offers an eye-opening look at what it’s like for an immigrant kid who has to lead a double life.
A resolute yet na ve Chinese girl confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok's affecting coming-of-age debut. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died. Now she and her mother are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who funded their trip from Hong Kong, so they dutifully work for her in a Chinatown clothing factory where they earn barely enough to keep them alive. Despite this, and living in a condemned apartment that is without heat and full of roaches, Kimberly excels at school, perfects her English, and is eventually admitted to an elite, private high school. An obvious outsider, without money for new clothes or undergarments, she deals with added social pressures, only to be comforted by an understanding best friend, Annette, who lends her makeup and hands out American advice. A love interest at the factory leads to a surprising plot line, but it is the portrayal of Kimberly's relationship with her mother that makes this more than just another immigrant story.
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Girl in translation
Well worth reading.
Loved this, well written, sensitive and reveals a lot about a culture and community that is not well covered in the 'mainstream' -- great airplane book that doesn't make you feel like you are going brain dead
I love this book so much. It's told from a different perspective about a life of a highly intelligent woman/girl. It's thought provoking, not a lighthearted love book. It's personally one of my favorite books. It's inspiring to see the main character work though all of her problems, and emerge victorious. It reminds me that no country or life is perfect, but working hard for yourself can change that. MUST READ! I highly recommend it!