Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the Silicon Valley Moms Book Club.
Girl in Translation is loosely based on author Jean Kwok’s family’s experience in coming to New York City from Hong Kong. Eleven-year-old Kimberly Chang and her mother come to New York with visions of the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. Instead, they wind up living in an apartment with roaches and rats. Her mother works in a sweatshop, with Kimberly having to help after school along with all the other workers’ children just so the work given to them can get done.
Kimberly was at the top of her class in Hong Kong but she speaks very little English. Still, she works hard to learn the language and her intelligence hasn’t left her. She knows that if anyone is going to get them out of that apartment and to a better life, that it is she.
This book showed me that there is “another America”, for those who were not lucky enough to be born here.
Sweatshops in America? Can this even be? Well the answer is yes.
Born in America or not, this wonderful novel speaks of the universal themes of life; growing up and finding you way. Going through school and learning how or where we will fit in, those embarrassing moments that you can look at now without scars, but moments all the same that you will never forget. The giddiness and heartbreak of love, figuring out what we are going to do with the rest of our lives. Kimberly goes through them all, and we cry with her and triumph with her as well.
This is a book that will stay with you for a long time, and change the way you think about your life, and others whom we don’t always give as much thought to. It’s a great summer read that you won’t want to put down, but so much more than that.
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