Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

This is a nice coming-of-age story. It's also a debut novel but sure does not read like this is the author's first novel. Kimberly Chang and her mother immigrate from Hong Kong to New York to what they hope will be a better life. However, they are sponsored by Kimberly's aunt and uncle who put them to work in their sweatshop as repayment for their trip to America. They are put up in an abandoned apartment building owned by the aunt and uncle. They live in squalor among roaches and rats with the oven providing the only heat in the apartment. It doesn't take Kimberly long to realize the only way out of their situation is through her education. Kimberly studies hard and is given a scholarship to a top school where she excels. Kimberly, who is quite mature for her age, is caught up between the world of poverty in which she lives and the world of her classmates, who mostly come from well to do families. She struggles to keep her life at home a secret from her classmates.

I really appreciated the relationship between Kimberly and her mother. They both counted on each other to survive. When life took a bad turn they were really there for each other.

I liked this book a lot. It wasn't a rosy coming-of-age story like one might think it would be. I could feel the struggles, pride, and heartbreak that Kimberly and her mother both must have felt. I highly recommend this book! I give it 5 stars!

I received this ARC for review from Riverhead Books through Shelf Awareness. Thank you for allowing me to read this wonderful book.


  1. This really sounds like a good book. I will have to get this one!

  2. It's already on my wish list...thanks for the great review!

  3. I also like the relationship between Kimberly & her mother - my heart just broke for them. I don't know if I could overcome all the obstacles that Kimberly had. But how great is this country that it is entirely plausible for someone in her situation to rise to such heights.

  4. I love immigrant fiction so I think I would really enjoy this one!

  5. Sounds like a winning read, this is the second review I've read for this one that gives it top marks!

  6. I read this book and I really thought it was one of the best
    I have read this year.
    Definitely, a 5 star.


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