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
Beth's Book Nook