Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: Girl in Translation

I sure do love the book blogging community. Probably 80% of the books I read are ones that I've found via another blogger's review. I read about Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation at Books and Movies just a month or so ago and added it to my TBR list. Often books sit on my TBR list for months or even years, but Girl in Translation happened to be on the shelves at the library.

I hardly put it down all weekend. (Well, except for when I was cooking, cleaning, taking kids places, doing laundry, lessons plans, etc. etc.) I absolutely loved this book. Jean Kwok is an extraordinary writer, and this story is unforgettable—and I don't say that very often.

Kimberly Chang and her mother have emigrated from Hong Kong to the U.S. At 11, Kimberly speaks a little English, but her mother neither speaks nor understands English at all. Kimberly's aunt "graciously" puts them up in a run-down, roach-and-rodent infested tenement without any heat. Kimberly begins attending school, and in spite of the language barrier, her teachers recognize that she is intellectually gifted.

For the next many years, Kimberly lives a double life: she is a star pupil by day, and a sweatshop worker in Chinatown by night. She perseveres in a school where she longs to fit in, just like any American teenager, but with the added difficulties of being an immigrant living in abject poverty. In the evenings at the sweatshop, she struggles with her aunt's outrageous jealousy as well as her passion for a fellow worker.

Everything about this book was excellent, really. I completely adored Kimberly and her mother and admired them, knowing that, while they are fictional characters here, people like them do exist and survive in real life. Kwok based much of this story on her own life. Girl in Translation will absolutely go on my Top 10 list of the year. Please read it!

Other Reviews of Girl in Translation
Books and Movies
Literary Life
MamaSick
Beth's Book Nook
Booking Mama
Word Lily
Reading Extravaganza
Big WoWo
Dogberry Pages

11 comments:

Book Bird Dog said...

Certainly a book I'd love to read!

Jean said...

I found this review via the Books and Music site too... thank you so much! I really appreciate your very kind words, esp. now that I'm hard at work on the next novel. Have linked to my Facebook fan page here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Kwok/213583280524

Best,
Jean

lovely treez said...

This one has been on my wishlist for a while now, you've convinced me that it needs to be acquired soon!

Cindy Swanson said...

You've convinced me! this will be on my list when I next head to the library...sounds wonderful.

Hope you'll check out my review of Dean Koontz' "Lightning" at http://cindysbookclub.blogspot.

Cindy Swanson said...

P.S...I've just followed you and added you to my blog list. :)

the Ink Slinger said...

Never heard of this book before, but your review of it is superb. I just might have to add it to my TBR list...

Thanks for sharing!

Erin said...

We must be on the same wavelength! After both discussing classics on Sunday, we've both just read Girl in Translation. I actually listened to the audio and just finished it today. My review won't be up until next week, but I, too, discovered it on another blog and loved it! I kept thinking I was listening to a memoir.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Sounds fantastic! Will definitely add to my TBR list!

GaryPaulson said...

Most definitely a great book. I read it back in April when I reviewed it as an Advance Reader Copy.

Great review!

Gary Paulson
DogberryPages.com

Soul Muser said...

Oh wow. This sounds like the sort of book I would love to read!

Rebecca Glenn said...

Thank you for submitting this review to the Book Review Blog Carnival. Edition #58 will be posted tomorrow on The Book Frog. Don't forget to check it out!