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156 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The immigrant experience through young Chinese eyes - a story about hope, persistence, and dedication
Girl in Translation is a coming of age story that intertwines what it means to be an immigrant with the values of family, a sense of duty, and hope for the future. Kimberly and her mother find themselves in New York looking for a better future than the life they'd known in Hong Kong. They are, unfortunately, at the mercy of Kimberly's aunt and uncle as they are quite...
Published on April 18, 2010 by AlexJouJou

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94 of 109 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not as deep as it could've been
I enjoyed the story and I did finish it with some feeling of attachment to the main character.

Having said that, I think the author treated the adolescent immigrant experience a bit too superficially for the story to have been truly satisfying. I compare the story to Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, another 1st person autobiographical but fictional account of a...
Published on July 21, 2010 by booksandbliss


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156 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The immigrant experience through young Chinese eyes - a story about hope, persistence, and dedication, April 18, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
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Girl in Translation is a coming of age story that intertwines what it means to be an immigrant with the values of family, a sense of duty, and hope for the future. Kimberly and her mother find themselves in New York looking for a better future than the life they'd known in Hong Kong. They are, unfortunately, at the mercy of Kimberly's aunt and uncle as they are quite indebted to them for arranging green cards and for taking care of medical bills for Kimberly's mom (who has had TB) as well as paying for their accommodations to New York.

When the story starts Kimberly is a middle school age girl who speaks and reads some English but not enough to create any real level of understanding of her surroundings. Her mother speaks almost no English. They've just arrived and their mother's sister (herself with a story that I won't spoil) has arranged an apartment and a job. The apartment is a heat-less, roach and rodent infested slum tenancy, and the job working at a sweatshop making pennies for long hours. The Chinese culture is front and center here and it is interesting to understand why Kimberly and her mom would agree to these conditions. The sense of duty, of obligation, runs strong - and they have very little other options and no choices. It certainly brought me back to stories my grandparents talked about as immigrants themselves and how they arrived in America and the struggles they faced. I think many of us have lost this sense of our past, of the struggles of our ancestors and how it really was when you arrived at Ellis Island (or how it could be)

As time passes they manage by making noises to frighten the various other non human tenants of their apartment and tape garbage bags to the broken window panes. Various people enter their life but they keep very much to themselves, afraid of what others would think if they knew the true situation. At first Kimberly struggles in school with her limited English skills but she soon picks things up and shows herself to be the star student she was back in Hong Kong for science and math.

Meanwhile both she and her mom work in the sweatshop for the pittance they get paid. Their life is undeniably hard and there is a marked contrast between the way things are for them and what Kimberly sees in school. The scenes in the sweatshop are particularly disturbing and it is unsettling to say the least to know that this type of thing exists not only in the USA but all over the world.

As high school approaches Kimberly receives a scholarship to an exclusive private school. All is not perfect though as there is such a contrast between her impoverished life and the immaculate and sprawling landscaped school grounds and beautiful buildings. It is really the first time Kimberly feels that she can escape the life she's been living and sets the stage for the choices she will make for the future.

As Kimberly tries to balance the demands of a top notch private school with her work both at the school and at her aunt and uncles sweatshop one of the boys there becomes Kimberly's friend, later destined to be something else. To see how a young boy can grow up in that environment and struggle and work towards a better future is heartwarming.

Just when you think you know what will happen the ending has a huge twist. I won't spoil it other than to say I almost cried.

I adored this book. It was comfortable and, in spite of the tragic content in places, the author did a wonderful job of making you feel it without spending your reading time in abject misery. The characters are extremely rich and vibrant and interesting. The world introduced feels as foreign as China to me and it is hard, as I've noted, to reconcile the fact that this type of thing happens all the time within the America I grew up in.

I also really enjoyed the Chinese sayings interspersed throughout the book. Instead of saying you are ungrateful you say "your heart has no roots". Although Kimberly struggled with learning this "Chinese" (what was being said indirectly or in a different way) I really enjoyed it. It is a part of the culture that is so different than the direct American way.

Girl in Translation flows smoothly and Kimberly ages as you press on, waiting to see what will happen, where she will end up, and if she can escape her situation and have a bright future. As bright as she is was my hope for her. An enlightening story with an interesting cast. Highly recommended!
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unsure at first.., June 5, 2010
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sun2008 (new york, ny) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
I had some ambivalence about this book at first, and mostly read it out of curiosity because it received such great reviews. The ambivalence was due to similarities between my own life and the character's - I am Asian, I immigrated to the US when I was thirteen, my previously well educated and professional parents became rough laborers, we were poor, I strugged with language and assimilation, and went on to two Ivy Leagues. So I thought: what can this book possibly tell me? Should there be such books to further the stereotype of the Chinese immigrant, who came to the U.S. poverty stricken and struggle to become doctors and lawyers? I chose to read it for two reasons: curiosity, and the fact that the author gave up science to become a writer and obtain and MFA - not very Chinese. I realized she must have had guts to risk the more certain path of a structured profession, for a career in writing. So I gave it a go. In the end, I do have to admit that I am probably a biased reader. Having had first hand experiences quite similar to the character's, there were times when I broke down while reading the book. It uncovered a lot of wounds and shame that I thought had gone away. I relived many painful moments which had been forgotten or buried away, and reminded me of who I was. Again, I realize this comes from a very specific perspective, but for having reacquainted me with an old sad self, I give it five stars.
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94 of 109 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not as deep as it could've been, July 21, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
I enjoyed the story and I did finish it with some feeling of attachment to the main character.

Having said that, I think the author treated the adolescent immigrant experience a bit too superficially for the story to have been truly satisfying. I compare the story to Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, another 1st person autobiographical but fictional account of a teenager trying to fit into a "foreign" culture, and Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, and wish that Girl in Translation could've read as deeply as those two books. I also write this with personal knowledge of the Chinese immigrant experience - my mother too worked in a garment factory and we lived in a roach-infested apartment, had to rely on doing well in school to get out of poverty, etc. - but I didn't feel that this story captured the deeper issues that come along with growing up in such an environment. The book focused too much on the poverty (way too many descriptions of the cold apartment and roaches and rats) and Kimberly's academic performance. When I was growing up I struggled alot with identity issues (cultural; familial (my role in the family since as a child I was given adult responsibility)), idealism (the painfully disappointing realization that my life was different from that of my American friends), a sense of not belonging anywhere (feeling neither Chinese nor American), resentment against my parents, the very people who were sacrificing for me (for being expected to be the adult, for being pushed to excel at school without emotional support) and guilt (for wanting freedom, hating my life, not respecting my parents (because I started to look down on them for needing me), wanting to be American), etc. The issues that immigrant children and teens face are ENORMOUS and complex and the book didn't really touch on these themes.

So, without the necessary depth, this story became, to me anyway, another story of an Asian American "whiz kid" - the kid who comes to the US with little or no English and money and then rises to the top academically and professionally.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Completely Engaging, June 2, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
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As good as advertised - I read it in one night; couldn't put it down.

Kwok's writing is clear and touching - I loved the way she used and then simply translated Chinese idioms to remind us of the different mindset Kimberly and her mother had. Her explanation of the struggles over the simplest things were so touching - how missing only a few words kept Kimberly lost in school, the assumptions her teachers made about her ability to do things like create posters ("with what supplies"?) or watch the evening news made me question things I have seen in schools, and the assumptions many of us make about the lives of those around us. Kimberly's friend Annette's discussion with her father and decision that Kimberly must be lying about working in a sweatshop because "kids don't work in factories in America" made me question the provenance of every item of clothing in my closet. Deeply, deeply, affecting.

The last quarter or so of the book, when Kimberly and Matt's relationship becomes deeper, was where Kwok lost me. I won't say more for fear of spoilers, but I felt that she acted out of character and plot decisions were made for unnecessary drama. The epilogue was sappy and overdone.

Those things, however, don't diminish the excellence of most of the book. This novel genuinely challenged me to think differently, and that's a rarity.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Poverty, June 15, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
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Kim, a sixth grader and her Ma are sponsored by Ma's oldest sister, Aunt Paula, to come to the USA from Hong Kong. Aunt Paula sets them up in a condemned apartment full of roaches, mice and rats; garbage bags are window panes and the only heat is the oven. Also, she puts them both to work in her sweat factory for paltry wages. Most spirits would be broken but Kimberly(Americanized name) is a brilliant student wanting to surpass what Aunt Paula has determined for their lives.

The writing is simple which lends itself to credibility....neither Kimberly or Ma speak English though Kim eventually learns it. Still her mind thinks often in Chinese so her descriptions of her coming of age situations remain minimal and thoughtfully composed. I think this would be a wonderful YA book as her tale of growing up from the 6th grade on in rich schools that grant scholarships is very inspiring and eye-opening. The fight against poverty, the odds, and love that could hold back her ambitions is a strong foe against success.

A quiet, gentle first novel, I think Ms. Kwok has a strong career ahead of her.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars for this engaging debut, May 4, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
A child and her mother come to America, 'the Golden mountain', in hopes for a better life, escaping the threats of a communist Hong Kong. Knowing little English and nothing of the American culture, Kim is thrust into the taunting and hateful school environment at age eleven. At the same time, Kim and her mother are beholden to a jealous aunt who makes them work long hours in a factory doing sewing work. They live in squalor, amongst roaches and rats, in the projects of Brooklyn, yet with not many neighbors because the place has been condemned.

The one saving grace for Kim is her intelligence and ability to catch on quickly. Kim makes a single friend who gets her through the days, and her mother never veers from her duty to try as hard as she can, although much of it is futile as they endure one freezing winter after another without any heat. Kim grows older and wiser, and surpasses the others at her school with stellar grades, and eventually gets accepted to Yale. Kim is forced to make a devastating choice go to Yale and leave her family obligations behind, or to accept her position in life as an immigrant forever trying to ingratiate herself into a foreign society.

Well told with a blunt passion for the subject matter, I wonder how close the story is to the author's own experiences. The racism is an underlying current, but not forced upon us as this is truly one young woman's story of surviving New York with little assistance and becoming an accomplished adult despite of it. It is also the story of young love and the repercussions of the romantic liaisons. There were a myriad of characters offered, from schoolmates to teachers to employers, and each one was an important part to Kim's story. I enjoyed the novel and recommend for anyone wishing for a light and quick read that moves fast. I read this novel in a quick page flipping all-nighter so that I could learn what happens to these strong characters who had endeared themselves to me so quickly. Jean Kwok delivers a powerfully told story of a coming of age story that holds nothing back and gives everything expected, and more. With promise of much success from this new author, Girl In Translation has already been selected as an Indie Next List Pick as well as a Blue Ribbon featured pick for many book clubs.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something is lost in "Translation", June 4, 2010
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NyiNya "NyiNya" (It was broken when I got here...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
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Sometimes you pick up a book and think, "Boy, I'm gonna love this." "Girl in Translation" promised to give that rare glimpse into the world of Hong Kong immigrants. What is more fascinating than seeing how real people live...not the usual Danielle Steele fare about over-sexed billionaire superlovers and their exotic mistresses, but a chance to be an unseen guest at the dinner table, to get an inside look at a culture that is worlds away from ours. Unfortunately, "Lost in Translation" doesn't deliver. The characters are sketchy at best. The rich culture of the Chinese community emerges only superficially. This could have been a thought-provoking, compelling journey into a fascinating world. Instead, the first 3/4 of the book are more like an Afterschool Special.

Kimberly, who is 12 years old when we meet her, and her widowed mother are brought to NYC from Hong Kong by the mother's well-to-do older sister. Auntie's fortune was secured by marrying a suitor rejected by Kimberly's mom, who chose to wed an impoverished musician instead.

When Kim's father dies, the Aunt sends for them, promising a good life and offering her sister a job tutoring the Aunt's son in Chinese. Turns out, Auntie is jealous, mean-spirited and parsimonious. Rather than the tutoring position, she places the mother in the garment district sweatshop owned by her husband.

This is a factory that would make Charles Dickens cringe. Amid choking air full of swirling dust and fabric particles, with demonic presses belching out boiling steam into the miasma, and the roar of sewing machines endlessly churning out cheap clothing, the workers struggle to keep up with quotas and eke a living doing piecework. Piecework, by the way, is a hellacious but lucrative (and illegal) practice beloved of the Free Market System. Workers (usually undocumented and always unskilled) are paid not by the hour, but by "the piece" -- usually pennies per piece and just a fraction of the most minimum of lawful wages.

The housing Auntie provides is worse than the factory: filthy, unheated and derelict. In this condemned building, in the heart of the Brooklyn ghetto, Kim and Ma, live as best they can, with no glass in the windows, hot and cold running cockroaches, and a few broken bits of furniture. To keep warm, Kim and her "Ma" wrap themselves in pieces cut from a scavenged roll of lime green plush intended for stuffed animals. No matter how much they scrimp, how hard they work, there is no chance they'll ever get ahead. Auntie, who collects the rent and may indeed own the rat trap (despite claiming it is the property of an unseen Mr. Norman), charges them top dollar for the apartment. Auntie also insists that, in addition to the inflated rent, they repay her the costs of their transportation from Hong Kong. She also dings them for a "deposit" on the apartment (!) and the broken odds and sods of furniture that she obviously picked up off the stree. And naturally, being a savvy business woman, she piles a tidy
"interest" on top. To repay this debt will take years and keeps Kim and her Ma impoverished, hungry, cold and under Auntie's thumb.

This would seem bleak and hopeless, except for one saving grace: Kim is a brilliant student. After a little initial difficulty while learning the language, she proves to be a genius in science and math, achieving perfect test scores. She is given a scholarship to a high-tone prep school and eventually a full scholarship to Yale because of her (rather unbelievable) level of genius. This gal is so bright, she works all night in the factory helping her mom, never cracks a book, and gets perfect scores on every test she takes including the SATs. It kind of stretches the imagination, because Kim's behaviour, quite frankly, just isn't that bright for the most part.

We get to share Kim's high school romances, which are about as interesting as you might imagine. We get a little more unbelievability thrown in (probably to amp up the book's teen appeal: the cutest, most popular boy in school falls for Kim. He's rich, artistic, kind and every girls dream date. But Kim is drawn to Matt, a cocky young Chinese man who works along side her at the factory. Matt, by the way, is the handsomest, most popular boy in the factory. AHA, we have conflict. The story takes couple of major twists that a discerning reader can just barely see coming.

Anyway, I think you see what I mean about "Afterschool Special" here. What we lack is any insight into how Kim's mother put food on the table, how they actually lived from day to day, what it was like shopping without knowing the language, what they ate, how the other workers survived. We learn more about the middle class white students who are Kim's friends -- but I already knew about them. I would have loved more about the Chinese immigrant experience beyond the repetitions of conditions in the factory and Kim's home. All we get of this fascinating world is the same basic description of the apartment and the factory, chapter after chapter. There are so many other places Kwok could have taken us, it's disappointing to be brought back to the same ground over the same ground over and over again.

The end of the book serves as an epilogue; we jump forward 12 years after Kim's acceptance at Yale. To say more would be a spoiler.

If you don't need a lot of meat on a story, you may enjoy this book more than I did. Most reviewers certainly seem all agog over it. I found "A Girl in Translation" too repetitious and superficial. Anyone could have written this after a day's library or internet research. Jean Kwok doesn't give us a three-dimensional look at the lives her characters live, she doesn't crate believable characters, and we get a very shallow portrait of emigrant life. The book doesn't deliver on its promise and doesn't rise about "young adult" level. Too bad, because this could have been an unforgettable journey into a largely unknown (at least to us in the West)world.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!, May 12, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
WOW were the first words out of my mouth after finishing Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I had only meant to read for a bit but before I knew it I had raced through the book. From the first page to the last, Kimberly's story just grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

"There's a Chinese saying that the fates are winds that blow through our lives from every angle, urging us along the paths of time. Those who are strong-willed may fight the storm and possibly chose their own road, while the weak must go where they are blown. I say I have not been so much pushed by winds as pulled forward by the force of my decisions. And all the while, I have longed for that which I could not have. At the time when it seemed that everything I'd ever wanted was finally within reach, I made a decision that changed the trajectory of the rest of my life."

I have to confess something: I'm an immigrant who's not drawn to immigrant stories. Why? I think it's because it's too close to home. But something about this book just really called to me. Some of what Kwok writes about (which she says is not a memoir but drawn from her own life) reminded me a lot about my experiences (without the extreme poverty) - being an outsider in a world where you understand very little of what's going on because of language difficulties or cultural misunderstanding, prejudice, finding refuge in scholastic achievement.

But Girl in Translation's realism goes far beyond this, painfully so - what Kimberly and her mother endure as very poor immigrants is heartrending: They are forced to live in a rat and cockroach infested apartment building slated for demolition. To survive, her mother, once a violin teacher, now has to work long hours in a sweatshop factory for a pittance. Kimberly, who has to help her mother after school, in violation of labor laws, already knows that this is her future. She views the price of items not by the dollar, but by how many skirts she and her mother have to finish at the factory. Every item bought is measured by the amount of backbreaking work.

You don't have to be an immigrant for this story to affect you; Kwok does a magnificent job of putting you in Kimberly's shoes. For instance Kimberly speaks and understands a Chinese schoolgirl's English; she understands most words but not all. Thus, Kwok writes the dialogue the way Kimberly hears it. The reader then is forced to be in Kimberly's place, feeling the sense of disorientation and bewilderment she feels.

Another thing that Kwok used effectively was the loveliness of Chinese sayings and idioms translated to English. When the Chinese characters interact, the way they talk to one another has a poetic and metaphorical wit that is very different from American idiom.

One thing that didn't work for me was a momentous decision that Kimberly makes towards the end of the book; it came as too much of a surprise. The reasons for it are explained but the circumstances seem improbable. It's as if Kwok faced two outcomes, one controversial and one safe, and decided to choose a third option that avoided controversy but didn't really make sense (unless you're in a soap opera). Coming at the end, which was a whirwind affair of 12 years told in two chapters, this didn't affect my enjoyment of the rest of the novel.

Girl in Translation is full of heart - how can you not root for characters that endure indignities with such spirit and amibition? Kimberly's story of growing up in America and earning the American dream is a truly moving one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Girl in Translation, June 14, 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
Kimberly Chang and her mother have just immigrated to America from Hong Kong in an attempt to escape the communist threat. Having secured help from her aunt's family, who owns a clothing factory, Kimberly and her mother are quickly ushered into their new apartment which comes complete with rodents, roaches and little to no heat. When her mother begins her job at the factory, Kim is enrolled in a public junior high school and her problems with assimilation begin in earnest. Kimberly is a very smart girl who had been used to winning honors and accolades at her school in China and is frustrated and upset that all her attempts to learn and understand the language are coming to nil. Soon Kimberly is working at the factory with her mother in addition to going to school, and it isn't too long before the small family's lives are beset with heartache. As the job at the factory devolves into a sweatshop situation, Kimberly and her mother are forced to do with less and less, while the requirements of living grow to be more and more. When Kim eventually makes a friend and begins to learn the ropes of the school and the English language, her life begins to take a turn for the better. Soon she also forms a romantic attachment in an unexpected place and she comes into her full academic glory. Though she has come from an extremely humble beginning, Kimberly eventually pulls free of her chains and takes her life and her mothers into uncharted waters, and they are able to truly begin again. In this reflective and often somber new novel, Jean Kwok gives us a very different take on achieving the American dream and shows how the spirit and fire of one girl can overcome even the most harsh of obstacles.

While I did end up enjoying this book, it was a bit of a slow start for me. From the moment the story begins when Kim and her mother step into that awful apartment, I felt a sort of odd disconnect. I wasn't sure if it was the writing style or the characters, who seemed almost devoid of real emotion, but for me, there was just a sense that the story was going to be a slog. Therefore I was happily surprised when Kim's voice began to take on more of an authentic ring and her life story really took flight. I think one of my problems with the early sections of the book had a lot to do with the lack of intimate details and feelings that Kim and her mother expressed, but as Kim grew into the courageous girl willing to brave any situation, she also grew on me.

A lot of this story was sad. Kim was forced to assimilate very quickly, and as a result, her self-image and confidence was really affected. Though she wanted to have friends and be a top student, her lack of knowledge about American social customs and the language barrier really put her up against some huge stumbling blocks. Part of the problem was the traditional ideals of her mother. Though Kim was sometimes invited to the homes and parties of her classmates, her mother felt that it was improper that a girl should socialize in that way and was also worried about having to reciprocate that hospitality when their home life was in such shambles. This led to a weary Kim having to lie about her excursions and kept her from feeling like part of the group. It was really frustrating to see that Kim definitely needed to bond with her fellow students, if only to learn from them, but due to her cramped schedule and the beliefs of her mother, was kept away. I also was kind of appalled to see that Kim and her mother were so ill used by her aunt in the factory. They were basically indentured servants, working long tiring hours for what amounted to pennies, jealously kept from advancement and success by a domineering and cruel woman.

As Kim begins to strike out on her own, she has many life changing experiences. When she discovers that there is mutual interest between herself and a boy who works in the factory, she is first delighted and then shy and confused. There is a lot of struggle in this quasi-relationship because although the boy is more familiar with her way of life and situation than other boys might be, Kim is still caught up in the anxieties of her low self-esteem and financial situation. This leaves the door open to many frustrations and misunderstandings between herself and the boy in question, and regretfully, the relationship takes many years to bear fruit.

I thought that the sections regarding Kim's school career were very interesting. She goes from being at the top, to somewhere in the bottom rungs, and is constantly maligned by both teachers and students. The main problem seems to be the language barrier, but she also has the more typical problems of teasing and being the odd person out. Her friendship with another girl in her class was a bright spot, both for her and for me. It had to be very punishing for her to constantly have to doubt her own value and accomplishments, to have to run twice as fast just to pull up even with the pack. As she becomes more comfortable in her environment, doors begin to open for her, both academically and in the area of relationships. I cheered for Kim when she began to fit in, and thought that though her success was hard won, it was a sweet victory.

In later sections, Kim falls into the same pitfalls as some of her friends. She becomes mildly promiscuous and seeks out destructive endeavors in order to fit in and find herself. This was a bit of surprise to me, and I felt that these were some of the sections that really emulated real life. Kim's life was a conundrum. Living and working as she did did not set her free, neither did travelling down the paths of her friends. What I think it finally was, was her determination to free her mother from her bonds and to experience the life she knew she was meant to have. And believe me, there was a lot of nefariousness disguised as goodwill keeping her trapped where she was. I think that's why it was doubly impressive that she broke free and was able to live the life she dreamed of. Though the book does return a more somber conclusion, I felt that there was a tremendous balance struck between Kim's dreams and her reality.

I think Jean Kwok did an excellent job with making Kim's story a tale of perseverance and heart, and it ended up being a very satisfying read for me. I would definitely recommend this book to those who are interested in well developed coming-of-age stories, as well as those who like to read about the immigrant experience. Kim was a human enough character for readers to really relate to her struggles, yet still somewhat of a curiosity whose foreign outlook and opinion would really muster a lot of interest in her singularly unique experience of a new life in America. A very thought provoking read and one that really spoke to me.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What's New?, August 28, 2010
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This review is from: Girl in Translation (Hardcover)
This book is another addition to the new wave of Chinese American literature that, in my mind, emerged over the past decade. It is nice to see one more effort devoted in writing Chinese immigrant experiences in the U.S., but I don't think it contributes anything new. All the cliches remain the same and dissapointingly lack of deeper reflection. Indeed, Kwok gives respectable and refreshing attempts to write through the eyes--and ears--of a girl, Kimberley Chang, as we can see in the "misspellings" as not only a form of cultural experience but also of literary creation. However, nothing much else amounts to the joy of reading. The fascination of American material prosperity, the perceived and lived reality of poverity in Brooklyn, the desire for Western/modern aristocratic civilization, the materially poor yet superior Chinese historical/spiritual/moral origin, and American racial stereotypes: all narrative elements in this fiction are obvious cliches, and they are left criminally unexplored and thus ultimately simplistic. To this observation, I find this fiction interesting, though, in how it resembles and repeats some primary themes in Chinese American literature throughout the past 50 years and little has changed. Is it that the history repeats itself after all, or is it that young Chinese American writers desperately need more, and definitely wilder, imagination?
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Girl in Translation
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (Paperback - May 3, 2011)
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