Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Title:  Girl in Translation
Author:  Jean Kwok
Release date:  April 20, 2010
Publisher:  Riverhead
Pages:  304
Genre:  Multicultural fiction
Source:  Library

Kimberly Chang and her mother have just immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn after the death of Kim’s father.  Kim was one of the top students in her class in China, but in the U.S. she has trouble even understanding what the teachers are asking of her, much less completing the assignments well.  In China, Kim and her mother lived in a comfortable, clean apartment and were generally happy with their station in life, but in the U.S., they are indebted to Kim’s aunt Paula, who paid for their immigration.  In Brooklyn, they live in a disgusting apartment in a condemned building, and work endless hours at the factory Paula’s husband owns, just to pay off their debts.  Despite these obstacles, Kim grasps English very quickly, begins to excel in school, and is given a full scholarship to a fancy private school.  She also develops a love interest and, with the help of her best friend Annette, begins to assimilate into American culture, all the while knowing that it is her education that is the key to her and her mother’s freedom.

Girl in Translation has been raved about around the blogs, so I’ll keep this pretty short and sweet.  I truly loved this novel.  Everything good you’ve heard about it already is true.  Kimberly is an honest character that you can’t help but root for.  The relationship between Kim and her mother is sweet beyond words.  This is a true coming of age novel, with one of the best characters I’ve read in recent memory.

I experienced this novel as an audiobook, and I highly recommend the audio version.  The narrator is fabulous and channeled Kimberly’s voice perfectly.

I absolutely loved Girl in Translation and highly recommend reading it.  If you are an audiobook fan, I advise you to try this one on audio.  Everything about it is fantastic and it is seriously not to be missed.


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