Sunday, January 27, 2013

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Kimberly Chang immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, New York in the 80's.  Her aunt Paula helped Kimberly and her mother with the immigration process and set them up in an apartment in an abandon building in one of the worst neighborhoods in Brooklyn. 

Paula 'graciously' allows them to work in her clothing factory for less than minimum wage.  Kimberly goes to the local public school in home made clothes.  She works with her mother in the factory once school is out until 9pm.  They both go home to their vermin and roach infested heat deprived apartment where Kimberly does her homework and her mother finishes the factory work she did not finish during her long day.

This coming of age book is unlike anything I've read.  Although this book is a work of fiction, it is rooted in truth.  This book gives a glimpse into the life of many Chinese immigrants, who while in their country were respected people, once they come here, they get lost in shuffle.

We watch Kimberly grow up in America through the 1980s and see how Western problems infultrate her life.

I really enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio version, and the narrator, who is Chinese, brought the Chang's and the rest of the characters to life.

I highly recommend this book for ages 14 and up.  There are some mature themes in this book as well as sexual situations.

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