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Girl in Translation

by Jean Kwok

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,1731757,192 (3.92)117
Fiction. Literature. HTML:From the author of Searching for Sylvie Lee, the iconic, New York Times-bestselling debut novel that introduced an important Chinese-American voice with an inspiring story of an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures. 
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When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her lifeâ??like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambitionâ??Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in transl… (more)
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» See also 117 mentions

English (170)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Fascinating picture of a life that seems impossible to believe but is probably uncomfortably true.

Kimberly and Matt are both a little too perfect for my taste.

It's an OK book but I wouldn't go out of my way to suggest it to others. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
after reading fluffy chicklit for a bit I was ready for something thought provoking and inspiring, girl in translation fit these desires perfectly and was a great reminder of the American dream ( )
  hellokirsti | Jan 3, 2024 |
This was an interesting and well-written story of a brilliant young woman who emigrated to the US from Hong Kong as a child. It describes her experiences working with her mother in a sweatshop under ridiculously illegal labor practices, adjusting to living in a practically condemned, roach infested building, and struggling to succeed in a school system where her limited English proficiency is interpreted as either stupidity or laziness.

The problems I had with this book are ones that I commonly encounter in YA literature. The antagonists are not nuanced or fleshed out, but are sort of cartoony villains. There is more adolescent love angst than I care to tolerate. The main character is a bit Mary Sue-ish, where she is of near-genius intelligence and all the boys want her but she is unattainable except for her first real true love, but there’s a love triangle and she battles her jealousy and wins in the end but tragedy strikes and she must sacrifice herself for love and OMG!!1!1! I almost threw my phone across the room at the conclusion, where it’s revealed that she let her boyfriend believe that she aborted their baby so he wouldn’t be forced to choose between the life he wants to lead and actually supporting her in pursuing her education and career. And that she regrets this decision in the end, because even in the "maturity" of her adulthood, she couldn't see that a guy who would ask her to abandon her education and future so he wouldn't feel unmanly by being out-earned and would force his wife to abandon her career out of jealousy is really a weak and selfish asshole. WTF, really?

Audiobook version, borrowed via Overdrive from my local library. Competently read by Grace Wey.
( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
This book made me travel in time and I enjoyed the story of Kimberly, even though it was sad. Her determination was so big even though she had to go over so many challenges. ( )
  simonamitac | Nov 27, 2023 |
This was a quick read (or I'm on a reading kick). I don't know that the premise was new but it was well told. I would really like to read this story from Matt's POV. I think he was the most interesting character and I there are questions about his story that I would love to know more about. ( )
  MsTera | Oct 10, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 170 (next | show all)
Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant—a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.
 
Kwok adeptly captures the hardships of the immigrant experience and the strength of the human spirit to survive and even excel despite the odds.
added by khuggard | editLibrary Journal
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kwok, Jeanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dekker, Jeannetsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wey, GrayceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Blackbirds (2013)
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Erwin, Stefan and Milan, and to the memory of my brother Kwan S. Kwok
First words
I was born with a talent. Not for dance, nor comedy, nor anything so delightful. I've always had a knack for school. Everything that was taught there, I could learn: quickly and without too much effort. It was as if school were a vast machine and I a cog perfectly formed to fit in it. This is not to say that my education was always easy for me. When Ma and I moved to the U.S., I spoke only a few words of English and for a very long time, I struggled.
Quotations
What Annette didn't understand was that silence could be a great protector. I couldn't afford to cry when there was no escape. Talking about my problems would only illuminate the lines of my unhappiness in the cold light of day, showing me, as well as her, the things I had been able to bear only because they had been half hidden in the shadows. I couldn't expose myself like that, not even for her.
Brains are beautiful.
In those days, I wanted to believe our love was something tangible and permanent, like a good luck charm I could always wear around my neck. Now I know it was more like the wisp of smoke trailing off a stick of incense: most of what I could hold onto was the memory of the burning, the aftermath if its scent.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Fiction. Literature. HTML:From the author of Searching for Sylvie Lee, the iconic, New York Times-bestselling debut novel that introduced an important Chinese-American voice with an inspiring story of an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures. 

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her lifeâ??like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambitionâ??Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in transl

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Book description
Ah-Kim Chang and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn, where they work for Kim's Aunt Paula in a Chinatown clothing factory earning barely enough to keep them alive; however, Kim's perseverance and hard work earns her a place at an elite private school where she is befriended by Annette, who helps her adjust to American culture.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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