Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok has been appearing in many review sources lately. I picked up a copy of the book, and found myself engrossed in the story of 11 year old Kimberly Chang.
Not Exactly Everything People Said It Would Be
Kimberly moves to New York City with her mother, and envisions a better life for her and her mother. The American dream soon becomes a nightmare. They are dropped off at the apartment her Auntie has found for them, and find it is invested with roaches and rats, and has no heat.
Kimberly had excelled in school in China, but quickly finds her lack of English a stumbling block. And she has little time to devote to her studies, since she has to help her mother labor in the Chinatown clothing factory her aunt and uncle run, and often brings more work home. There is also a struggle between her attraction for an American boy, and another immigrant sweatshop worker. The choices Kimberly makes will determine her destiny in many ways.
Intimate and Moving
The book has traces of the author’s own experiences as a young immigrant, and the first person narrative reads like a memoir. This extraordinary book shows the determination of the human spirit, and the power of dreams in realizing one’s goals.
DeAnn O. has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years; she is a long time bibliophile, children’s advocate, and book reviewer for School Library Journal.