Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation
By Jean Kwok
Publication date: April 2010

My review:

When Kimberly Chang and her mother immigrate to New York to live with her aunt Paula, they are certain that their lives are about to get better. What they find instead is a harsh life working and living in miserable conditions and a bewildering culture where they don't fit in. Aunt Paula although she is well off, does not feel that she owes her younger sister anything. It is up to Kim to save her mom and herself. 

Kimberly is an admirable character. She shows a lot of inner strength, even though it takes some time for her to develop the courage to stand up to her aunt. Her journey from frightened young girl to a brave young woman is inspirational. Kimberly's mother's determination to provide for her daughter is also touching even though she lets her older sister Paula walk all over them. The descriptions of their life in the squalid apartment and work in the sweatshop are hard to read about and it is sad that Kimberly has to live two lives.

There were times when I found it a little unbelievable that no one else did anything about their horrific living situation. While Kimberly is a well developed character I thought Aunt Paula was rather one dimensional as the "villain" of the novel. I also thought the story lost some of its poignancy as Kimberly became a teenager and the pacing suffers towards the end. Overall however I found Girl in Translation to be a moving and uplifting story and it is one of my favorite reads of 2010. It would appeal to fans of Lisa See and it would make a good book club pick.

Readalikes: Lisa See, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

1 comment:

  1. I love Asian-related books, they're always so hard to find! Thanks for suggesting this!


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