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Showing 1-10 of 42 reviews(3 star). See all 472 reviews
on August 23, 2011
Although the story was quite interesting and the characters even more so, for some reason I didn't find myself filled with that feeling of "can't wait to get back to the book." I did finish it and am glad I did but it just didn't "grab" me. I'm not sure why except I had just finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and any book after that would have paled in comparison. In Girl in Translation, the young protagonist, Kim, was just too darn smart and capable to be believable and her relationship with Matt reminded me of the romance movies I watched as a little girl that taught me all the wrong messages about unfulfilled love.
1 helpful vote
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VINE VOICEon June 2, 2010
I have read many immigrant novels describing the hardships and unbelievable cruelties foisted on newcomers to America. Kwok's vantage point of the Chinese experience was interesting and some parts were not as predictable as I expected. However, the basis of the story was nothing really enlightening. Most typical is the situation of one's own family (in this case the older sister, Aunt Paula) criminally taking advantage of her widowed sister and niece.

The sweat shops still persist in New York, it remains the place the poor can find some work. Astonishing, but true. Kimberly, the heroine, is a gifted woman who overcomes heartbreaking obstacles to become a professional. She gives back to the Chinese community in many ways. It is a good story and well written but, unfortunately, the suffering of immigrants is not revelatory. The end of the plot seemed hurried and rather mundane. I believe this book would be better suited to young adults rather than a more seasoned reader.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on August 18, 2013
Explores a life most of us will never know. The Chinatowm sweatshops probably still exist.

Kept my interest throughout the book, which is a compliment
1 helpful vote
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on August 21, 2014
After reading novels by Khaled Hosseini, this felt a bit weak and contrived.
1 helpful vote
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on January 6, 2015
I enjoyed reading Ms Kwok's novel which was loosley based on her own life because I always like success stories. Having lived in NYC and seen how the immigrants live in sub-standard housing I could almost believe her tale of living in the ghetto. I think it was somewhat exaggerated to live in a building without windows and heat yet have gas to cook with. Also traveling on the subway alone while still in elementary school seemed a little farfetched. Perhaps I give the school district and NY's Port Authority more credit to protect minors. Never the less, there were a lot of gaps in the story and the motorcycle got our entire bookclub questioning the validity of it all. Anyone who worked so hard at becoming a doctor should concentrate on her patients.
1 helpful vote
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on August 11, 2014
This book took awhile to get into, but once I hit about page 75, I had a hard time putting it down. I really enjoyed the first-person POV, especially experiencing the main character's maturity and shedding of self-consciousness right alongside her. Up until the end, I would've given this book four stars -- maybe even five. Those final pages just felt very abrupt and predictable. So while I thought the character development and story build-up were stellar, I closed the book feeling very unsatisfied.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on September 9, 2012
Overall, I enjoyed the storyline, but it frequently stretched my imagination further than was comfortable, believable. Ages of personalities and circumstances just did not always add up. Nonetheless, I wanted to read to the conclusion. The concept of a young girl moving into a completely different culture and facing multiple adjustments was a good one to contemplate since it occurs frequently here in the U.S.
2 helpful votes
3 helpful votes
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on December 17, 2013
I started off reading this book thinking this will be one that stays with you long after you finish reading it. Sorry, to say that about half way through the book, I wanted to put it down. It became very frustrating as the story repeated what we were already aware of, the horrid conditions of the apartment Kimberley shares with her mother,as well as the conditions at the factory. I actually felt more compassion for the mother than the main character, which I felt lacked the humility seen in most Asian immigrants who are as smart as this character portrays herself. The love story between Kimberley and Matt leaves you wondering at the end of the book, for we know those questions did come, and they are not the kind you can just side step forever. I finished reading this book because I paid for it, if it had been borrowed I would not have finished it. Sorry, just too many unanswered questions, and way too much of what was already known.
1 helpful vote
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on July 16, 2010
This a great story of cultural assimilation. It's about an 11 year old girl that moves to NYC from Hong Kong. She and her mother struggle with unbelievable poverty as they try to navigate their way around their new surroundings. The book starts strong, but the ending feels contrived...as if Kwok was forcing a happy ending to the story.
2 helpful votes
3 helpful votes
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on January 3, 2014
I liked the storyline of this book and enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture and the American sweat shops. Despite all the hardships it is a story of the human spirit and preserving
1 helpful vote
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