Sabina's Reviews > Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
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's review
Feb 09, 12

bookshelves: fiction
Read from February 07 to 09, 2012

“Kimberley is eleven when she and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to New York. They speak no English, live in abject poverty and work in near-slavery conditions in a sweatshop run by relatives. Yet Kimberley still manages to excell at school, win a scholarship for a prestigious private school and to go on to Yale. All the while she is forced to live a double life, poor and Chinese on the one hand, smart American student on the other.

I wanted to like this, I think it is an important story. However, the idea was better than it's execution. It reads for the most part like a YA novel, partly because of the subjects of growing up, fitting in etc, but also because of the writing. The use of Chinese idioms don't always work, and the same can be said for the occasional phonetic spelling of words that Kimberley doesn't understand as I sometimes had to stop and think what they are supposed to mean. I also didn't care for the ending.

This is a coming of age story with a difference, an interesting look at modern multi-cultural societies. Unfortunately, for me, it's not as compelling as it should be.”

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