Louise's Reviews > Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
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's review
Nov 07, 2010

bookshelves: literature-fiction
Read in November, 2010

Kimberly Chang, eleven-years old and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to America. Kimberly nor her mother speak much English which makes it difficult for them to function in their new life in New York. They’ve come in hopes of finding a better life for themselves but instead find a dump ridden and filthy Brooklyn apartment that is overrun with mice and cockroaches. The apartment has no heat and no windows which they cover with green garbage bags and leave the oven on all winter for some heat which doesn’t quite fill their need.

They are forced to sleep on a dirty mattress on the floor with roaches and mice climbing all over them during the night. In the winter months they sleep under blankets made from animals with their coats and hats on but are still chilled to the bone. Not an ideal place for a growing 11-year-old.

They find work in a sweatshop working unbelievably long gruesome hours barely making enough money to cover their rent for this horrible apartment they must live in. However, Kimberly is an extremely intelligent girl academically and uses her talent to earn a place for herself and her mother in their adopted country.

Kimberly attends school but hides the staggering poverty from her friends that her mother and her must live in and concentrates on her studies. Her friends also don’t realize that Kimberly is living a double life, a student by day and sweatshop worker by night and weekend.

In time Kimberly learns to translate her language in to English and her life back and forth between the two different worlds she lives in. However, Kimberly is still a young girl with feelings and emotions and as she gets a little bit older she meets a young man named Matt who also works at the sweatshop and is her age. Matt is very kind to her and her mother, often helping them complete their quota for the day. Kimberly falls in love with Matt and decides to be intimate with him but her life soon takes a turn for the worse. She has been accepted a Yale University but her hopes and dreams may soon go down the drain.

This was a well-written book with great character development and story line that kept me turning page after page. I didn’t want the book to end and hope Ms. Kwok will write a sequel to Girl in Translation. This is a book everyone would enjoy.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Coralie (new)

Coralie This book sounds excellent. I put it on my TBR list.

message 2: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise I'm really glad you've put it on your TBR list, I think you'll really enjoy it!!


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