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Book Review: Girl In Translation

Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Girl In Translation is an amazing, compelling book. The story of Kim, a girl trapped between two worlds–the staggering poverty and old-world customs of her home life and the new American manners, language and ideals she has to learn as she attends school and tries to fit in. Kim has only one talent–she is a wonderful student, always top in her class back in Hong-Kong, and she knows that if she tries hard enough she can save herself and her mother from the life they are forced to live here in their new country. But the road to salvation is a lonely path for a girl who cannot share her secrets with anyone, not her one American friend, not her mother, not the boy she comes to care for.

School becomes both a refuge and a burden, and as Kim continues to assist her mother at the factory as she finds herself becoming a shining star in school once again.

I found it nearly impossible to put this book down. I was so caught up in the story of that I ended up reading the entire book in one night. The contrasts between Kim’s life at home, in a room without heat, where she & Ma make blankets & clothing from castoff fabric they find in the street and the opulence of her life at school, are simply heartbreaking. Kim is a remarkable young woman, compassionate, naive, and highly intelligent; her contrasts make her a powerful narrator. Seeing America through her immigrant eyes shows both sides of our country, without prejudice– the appalling poverty and the incredible opportunity. Girl In Translation is a novel of hope.  

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