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 life 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 ambition. 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 translation.
I literally cannot even describe what I’m going through right now.
It’s not exactly the kind of shock and adoration and jumble of feelings all at the same time feeling that you get when you read the ending to Rick Riordan’s THE MARK OF ATHENA, but it’s more of a what-just-happened thing. Almost like the ending of Clockwork Princess, except not as intense. If that makes sense.
Geez. Curt and Matt. I definitely did not expect that to happen.
Well, let me start at the beginning.
Characters. Wow. I really liked Kimberly and her journey as she goes through this book. I recognized her story, and I was really impressed by the way Jean Kwok was able to accurately describe the display of emotions that Kimberly was going through. Not too much, not too little. Very nice. And the thing is, I loved both Curt and Matt as well. I could completely see where Matt was coming from, the kind of person he was. And I enjoyed Curt. I appreciated his character.
Plotline. Nice and smooth. I liked the soft, slow contemporary pace to the story that was constant and lasted throughout the book. The flow worked really well with the pace. Where the rant comes in is the ending.
This is where everything comes into play. Kimberly’s narration, Kwok’s writing style, Curt’s character, Matt’s decisions and everything in between; all of it hit me at once and I was finally able to appreciate it. That bittersweet ending. It didn’t seem at all like Kwok was trying too hard, or like she didn’t try enough. It wasn’t perfect, but it was right on the dot for what this book needed it to be. There was just enough description there, just enough emotion, all of it was exactly the ending that this book needed if Kwok was going to go that route, which she did.
Consider me impressed.
Will be looking forward to seeing more of Kwok, but I do have to admit this is a one-time (or two-time, if it’s super good) thing. -.- I can’t take writers who heave bittersweet endings into all of their books. The feels and mixed-up thoughts I have after I read is too much to take for a ton of books.
pg count for the hardback: 304