Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Review: Girl in Translation

Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel is a beautiful rendition of the bumpy road to the American Dream, which the author tells through the eyes of a youthful narrator who recounts the hardships she and her mother incurred in their struggles to survive as an immigrant family in the US.

The story and writing style is truly compelling and intelligent, and left me craving more each time I placed my bookmark between the book's crisp pages (did I mention how much I love hard back books?). But, what the author covered in this story of strife she left out in mystery. I never had the desperate hope that the main characters would ever “make it” in America, which seemed to be a given from the first chapter.

Although the story seems like an accurate description of an Asian American immigrant family, the author’s debut novel fails to offer details about some of the hardships and celebrations I expect took place during the course of their integration into American culture and life. For example, the youthful narrator Kim spends every day after school working at the sweatshop, but never discusses how sleepy or burnt out she is in class – something that would surely happen to a young girl - no matter how high her IQ.

Kim is a good-hearted character who arrives in the States at 11-years old from Hong Kong with her ailing mother. Her aunt, who was easy to despise, is the only family she and her mother have in the country and are left to fend for themselves as the aunt sets out obstacle after obstacle for the family to work around.

The author also offers humor in her writing style, which had me laughing about how many “skirts” items cost for weeks after I finished the book. Overall, this was a good read and a solid recommendation for anyone looking for a compelling read.

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