This was an amazing book. It reminded me of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" except with a mother-daughter Chinese family. Although it wasn't quite to the same caliber as "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," it was an amazing read.
The characters go through so much in this story, and yet they strive for a positive attitude. In a sense, this is a coming of age novel about Kimberly as she tries to balance her life helping her mother work at a sweatshop, their atrocious apartment, and the American way of life (which includes some teasing at school!).
I loved how determined Kimberly and her mother are, all the things I learned about Chinese life and immigrant life, and the ending. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in immigrants, other cultures, and those that just want to read an inspiring book!
I totally enjoyed this novel about a mother and daughter's emigration from Hong Kong to Brooklyn and the trials and tribulations of their lives, living in squalor and working in a Chinatown sweatshop. It is beautifully written from the point of view of Kimberly, the daughter and heartwarming to experience the strength and resilience of the two main characters.
This book was an excellent book about what life would have been like for immigrants coming to this country. The story about the challenges of living accomodations, working conditions and unscrupulous family members. But the wonderful story about the determination to succeed was what made this book hard to put down. This book was chosen by our book club for our December read.
Kimberly Chang, eleven-years old and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to America. Kimberly nor her mother speak much English which makes it difficult for them to function in their new life in New York. They've come in hopes of finding a better life for themselves but instead find a dump ridden and filthy Brooklyn apartment that is overrun with mice and cockroaches. The apartment has no heat and no windows which they cover with green garbage bags and leave the oven on all winter for some heat which doesn't quite fill their need.
They are forced to sleep on a dirty mattress on the floor with roaches and mice climbing all over them during the night. In the winter months they sleep under blankets made from animals with their coats and hats on but are still chilled to the bone. Not an ideal place for a growing 11-year-old.
They find work in a sweatshop working unbelievably long gruesome hours barely making enough money to cover their rent for this horrible apartment they must live in. However, Kimberly is an extremely intelligent girl academically and uses her talent to earn a place for herself and her mother in their adopted country.
Kimberly attends school but hides the staggering poverty from her friends that her mother and her must live in and concentrates on her studies. Her friends also don't realize that Kimberly is living a double life, a student by day and sweatshop worker by night and weekend.
In time Kimberly learns to translate her language in to English and her life back and forth between the two different worlds she lives in. However, Kimberly is still a young girl with feelings and emotions and as she gets a little bit older she meets a young man named Matt who also works at the sweatshop and is her age. Matt is very kind to her and her mother, often helping them complete their quota for the day. Kimberly falls in love with Matt and decides to be intimate with him but her life soon takes a turn for the worse. She has been accepted a Yale University but her hopes and dreams may soon go down the drain.
This was a well-written book with great character development and story line that kept me turning page after page. I didn't want the book to end and hope Ms. Kwok will write a sequel to Girl in Translation. This is a book everyone would enjoy.
Girl in Translation is a wonderful coming of age story about a young girl coming to America to carve a place for both herself and her mother. Young Kim has a tough job ahead of her, working hard in school and then in her ruthless aunt's sweatshop to keep her small family in a run down tenement in Brooklyn. Defying the difficult conditions, working in the spirit that built this country, will she emerge from poverty to achieve her goals? This was a wonderful book, filled with a tender romance, and fraught with setback after heart wrenching setbacks. The predicament of the immigrants is as pitiful as it is shameful, that in this great country such abuse could occur. Kim's every victory is a shared triumph and a joy to read. I loved this book. it is a testament to the human spirit, filled with hope and though it is laced with heartache, the message of survival is not lost in translation. Beautifully and authentically written, this book ultimately is about responsibility and duty, and how we choose to guide our conscience.