Girl In Translation

Girl In Translation

Large Print - 2011
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Feb 23, 2019

A well told story of the struggle of Chinese immigrants - in this case a mother and daughter - to build a life in the United States. Recommend. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Jan 11, 2019

I just got finished reading this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It kept my interest from beginning to end. I appreciated that the author used this novel as a platform for her own experiences.

Rebecca_Kohn May 22, 2018

Powerful novel that delves into the American experience from the perspective of a young woman from China who fights for her vision of the American dream while simultaneously working in an illegal sweatshop. Kwok's writing is top-notch, it is a book you can't bear to put down because you feel like you are in the moment with the characters. While this book is set in New York City, the emotions, struggle, and drive of the main character have a message relevant to the entire country.

HCL_staff_reviews Apr 13, 2018

A Chinese immigrant and her teenage daughter experience love, loss, poverty and acculturation in this coming of age novel set in New York. — Sarah G., Eden Prairie Library

Jan 26, 2017

Great read! Hard to put down. What I didn't like was the premarital sex.

Aug 26, 2016

I love the story :) Must read book.

Sep 30, 2015

Loved this book. Beautiful and sadly poignant story of a Korean immigrant mother and daughter trying to make a life in the garment industry in NY. Kimberly, the daughter, is quite brilliant and must cope with American school in addition to working evenings at the factory. It's a life that I myself have never know, but the reality of child labor is true for some. I loved the character growth and development of Kimberly and admired her fortitude when coping with living conditions and life events that would cripple many.

Jan 19, 2015

What an important exploration of American culture through the eyes of an immigrant mother and daughter. Loved this book. Want to read more from this author.

Jun 16, 2014

An immigration story with a focus on the mother/daughter relationship of the main characters. Loosely based on the author's personal experience. It was a good storyline but the writing style was a little flat for me.

ChristchurchLib Jun 15, 2014

"Drawing on author Jean Kwok's own experience, this debut novel tells the story of Ah Kim, who emigrated with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, where she decides to go by Kimberly Chang at school. Their unheated apartment is condemned (and infested), and both must work at a sweatshop to pay back the aunt who financed their transport, but that doesn't stop Kimberly from excelling at school. Success there eventually takes her to Yale, but not without some hardships. Partially a coming-of-age story, this tale of an immigrant's experience offers "much to savor" (Booklist). Kwok's second novel, Mambo in Chinatown, will be published this month." Fiction A to Z June 2014 newsletter

Dec 04, 2013

A very well deserved 5 stars! This book was compared to 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' which was unequivocally my favorite novel growing up. I think this one would have definitely been a contender; something about the strength of the protagonist and the love of her and her mother makes this book so special. I'll likely read this again in the future.

JCLKinsleyR Oct 07, 2013

Coming of age story about the struggles of being an immigrant in a large city that can easily swallow you up.

Jul 18, 2013

Fabulous!! I loved this story. I can't wait for more from Jean Kwok.

Jul 10, 2013

Loved this book and devoured it over a day.

thart Mar 25, 2013

For February 2013 Bookies (Fiction Book Club) at Crystal Lake Public Library. I thought the writing was fine but the book was rather cliche. The first half was fine but once she had the pregnancy and was off to college I thought the "twists" were quite typical and I lost interest. I did not hate it, but I would not recommend it much to anybody, except if you cannot see plot twists coming from a mile away. The author apparently based much of the first half on real life events and people, especially her brother, although the protagonist is a girl, Kimberly. I think that is why the ending becomes cliche and dies, she no longer had real life to reference for those parts. When she was referencing life in the first 1/2 to 3/4 of the book it was better written and flowed more smoothly.

sharonb122 Jan 30, 2013

This was fabulous! I admired the was Jean Kwok wrote progressively better as Kimberly became older and better educated. It was incredible to read of the hardships under which this mother and daughter lived. They had so much strength. Makes my complains so petty! Definately a "couldn't put it down" book.

eve373 Jan 05, 2013

I assume this story is mostly based on the author's real-life story. I found it to be very intriguing and enjoyed reading it, until it's first ending ended in a very cliche way. You'll get what I mean if you read it.

DebbyReese Jun 09, 2012

This is one of the best books I read this year - read twice - once on my own, and later with my book club! I'm hoping this author publishes another soon!

skindrea Dec 24, 2011

An interesting read about a girl from Hong Kong who grows up in New York City trying to balance school life, and work in a garment factory with her mother. Shows the power of hard work, determination, and family.

debwalker Nov 03, 2011

From Hong Kong to Brooklyn. Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Girl in Translation as her pick of the month for November,

Melbergo Oct 09, 2011

Once again, a wonderful debut author has made my day! Girl In Translation, by Jean Kwok is a wonderful coming of age story about a girl and her mother who emigrated from Hong Kong in the seventies. (I wonder if this is a new genre as well—immigration stories of the late 20th century!)

Kim and her mom begin their journey is an awful apartment full of mice and bugs. Apparently Kim’s aunt (who helped them come to the U.S.) had promised them a place and support but once they came to America, she pretty much turned them into slave labor. (There is an old grudge that the aunt is still carrying and she basically makes her little sister’s life as miserable as she can.) They are forced to work in a sweatshop (Kim’s mom worked all day and evening, Kim worked from when she got out of school until 9 pm or so!) until all of their debts are repaid. This of course will take years.

There are many hardships in the book but do not think it is a maudlin read. It is, in fact, completely uplifting. Kim has a best friend who is amazing. She falls in love with a very kind boy. She ultimately excels in school and it is her ticket to financial success. She deals with an overprotective mom, working 20 hours a day, peer pressure, power of sex, mean girls, competitive relatives and that age old feeling of “I don’t think I fit in anywhere.” I think it should be on every high school student’s required reading list. Not just because of the lessons it teaches, but because there seems to be such a universal quality of growing up. No matter where or when, adolescence seems to involve the same issues.

Although this is classified as fiction, the fact that the author had also emigrated from Hong Kong during the same time period and had worked in a sweat shop and graduated from an Ivy League school made this story ring so authentic I am dying to ask the author what was fictional and what was not! This is a very fast read that was impossible to put down. I read 90% of it in one day. It is that good!


BPLNextBestAdults Jul 13, 2011

Narrated by an eleven-year-old girl, this is the inspiring story of Kimberly and her mother who make the move from Hong Kong to New York City in the 1990’s. They are leaving Hong Kong before China takes over and incorporates communist rule. However they are not prepared for the impoverished living conditions of New York City after leaving a comfortable lifestyle back home. Her mother ends up working in a textile sweatshop and has trouble learning the language and customs of the city. Kimberly must assume a leadership role in her small family to protect her mother and to get ahead in her education. We follow Kimberly’s progress as she masters the language and excels in school. Her journey is not always easy and is heartbreaking at times, but her strong spirit helps her to overcome the obstacles to succeed.
Compelling coming-of-age fiction which would be interesting to teens as well as adults.

Feb 01, 2011

I was thrilled by this novel depciting the horrifying reality of immigrants who are absorbed into the underground economy. I love the fact that she kept her son and still succeeded in reaching her goals (sometimes these endings are necessary for the soul).

ehbooklover Dec 29, 2010

A compelling novel about a young girl's experiences after she and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to the United States. The story gives readers a whole new appreciation of the struggles and hardships encountered by recent immigrants. So well written at times it felt as though I was reading a memoir.

Sep 01, 2010

I really enjoyed this book! The author, Jean Kwok, writes the story of a young, brilliant girl immigrates to New York City from Hong Kong with her mother. However, upon arrival they find themselves living in the slums with no heat and hardly any windows and working in a sweat shop, all under the care of her wickedly jealous aunt. A story of bravery, determination quickly unfolds into a tale of triumph and accomplishment.

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