cmapdx, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by cmapdx)
A beautifully written story to remind us in today's age of technology and mobility that the playing field for students is not level. Children are hungry to learn. The community and teachers must reach out to really know each student in order to make a difference.
Cathy from Olympia, Washington, February 19, 2011 (view all comments by Cathy from Olympia, Washington)
I found I couldn't put the book down once I started... 11-year old Kimberley Chang immigrates with her mother to the United States from Hong Kong in hope of a better life. They find themselves working in an illegal sweatshop to pay back the debts for bringing them to the U.S. Kim is determined to earn a better life for both herself and her mother despite the debts... Apparently the novel is drawn, in part, from the author's childhood-- Kwok immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn as a child, and her family worked in a sweatshop. There is some drug use and sex in the novel, but it is dealt with in a mature, unsensationalized manner. Recommended reading for high school and up.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"A resolute yet nave 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Library Journal,
"Drawing on her own experiences as an immigrant from Hong Kong...Kwok adeptly captures the hardships of the immigrant experience and the strength of the human spirit to survive and even excel despite the odds."
A fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice makes an inspiring debut with this novel about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two cultures. [R]eminiscent of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Min Jin Lee (Free Food for Millionaires)
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Introducing a fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice, Girl in Translation is an inspiring debut about a young immigrant in America, a smart girl who, living a double life between school and sweatshop, understands that her family's future is in her hands.
Introducing a fresh, exciting new voice, an inspiring debut about a Chinese 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 American immigrant novel—a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.
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