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The Resource Girl in translation, Jean Kwok

Girl in translation, Jean Kwok

Label
Girl in translation
Title
Girl in translation
Statement of responsibility
Jean Kwok
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Caught between the pressure to succeed in America, her duty to their family, and her own personal desires, Kimberly Chang, an immigrant girl from Hong Kong, learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
Alex Award, 2011.
Review
  • Drawing on Kwok’s personal experience, this debut novel tells a contemporary immigration story of heartbreaking struggle and wild success. Ah Kim, 11, leaves Hong Kong in the 1980s and moves with Ma into a freezing Brooklyn slum apartment infested with roaches and rats. The hostile teacher calls “Kimberly” a cheat when she gets good grades. After school, she helps Ma reach her quota in a clothing factory in Chinatown, sometimes until midnight. In simple, searing, richly detailed prose, Kwok captures the anguish of the struggle, including the illegal factory work and child labor, but eventually, as fortunes change, the novel becomes a rags-to-riches story (Kimberly gets into a top high school and then Yale). Success, however, brings the universal immigrant lament of not fitting in. Kim cannot get the rules of fighting and flirting, and her misunderstandings are both hilarious and wrenching. “I wanted to be part of things but I had no idea how.” And, always, there are those who don’t make it. Immigrants, new and old, will find much to savor here, from the drama of family secrets to the confusing coming-of-age. -- Rochman, Hazel (Reviewed 04-01-2010) (Booklist, vol 106, number 15, p22)
  • A resolute yet naïve Chinese girl confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok's affecting coming-of-age debut. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died. Now she and her mother are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who funded their trip from Hong Kong, so they dutifully work for her in a Chinatown clothing factory where they earn barely enough to keep them alive. Despite this, and living in a condemned apartment that is without heat and full of roaches, Kimberly excels at school, perfects her English, and is eventually admitted to an elite, private high school. An obvious outsider, without money for new clothes or undergarments, she deals with added social pressures, only to be comforted by an understanding best friend, Annette, who lends her makeup and hands out American advice. A love interest at the factory leads to a surprising plot line, but it is the portrayal of Kimberly's relationship with her mother that makes this more than just another immigrant story. (May) --Staff (Reviewed March 15, 2010) (Publishers Weekly, vol 257, issue 11, p34)
  • Living in squalor among rats and roaches in a virtually abandoned unheated apartment building in Brooklyn, NY, 11-year-old Kimberly Chang narrates how, after recently immigrating from Hong Kong, she and her mother strive to eke out a life together working in an illegally run sweat shop. Though she was once the top-ranked pupil in her class in Hong Kong, Kimberly's English skills are so limited that she must struggle to keep up in school while still translating for her mother and attempting to hide the truth of her living situation from her well-to-do classmates and only true friend, Annette. Drawing on her own experiences as an immigrant from Hong Kong (though she herself went to Harvard and Columbia, while Kimberly earns a spot at Yale), Kwok adeptly captures the hardships of the immigrant experience and the strength of the human spirit to survive and even excel despite the odds. VERDICT Reminiscent of An Na's award-winning work for younger readers, A Step from Heaven , this work will appeal to both adults and teens and is appropriate for larger public libraries, especially those serving large Asian American populations.—Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. Lib., Santa Ana, CA --Shirley N. Quan (Reviewed February 15, 2010) (Library Journal, vol 135, issue 3, p90)
  • An iteration of a quintessential American myth—immigrants come to America and experience economic exploitation and the seamy side of urban life, but education and pluck ultimately lead to success.Twelve-year-old Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong and feel lucky to get out before the transfer to the Chinese. Because Mrs. Chang's older sister owns a garment factory in Brooklyn, she offers Kimberly's mother—and even Kimberly—a "good job" bagging skirts as well as a place to live in a nearby apartment. Of course, both of these "gifts" turn out to be exploitative, for to make ends meet Mrs. Chang winds up working 12-hour–plus days in the factory. Kimberly joins her after school hours in this hot and exhausting labor, and the apartment is teeming with roaches. In addition, the start to Kimberly's sixth-grade year is far from prepossessing, for she's shy and speaks almost no English, but she turns out to be a whiz at math and science. The following year she earns a scholarship to a prestigious private school. Her academic gifts are so far beyond those of her fellow students that eventually she's given a special oral exam to make sure she's not cheating. (She's not.) Playing out against the background of Kimberly's fairly predictable school success (she winds up going to Yale on full scholarship and then to Harvard medical school) are the stages of her development, which include interactions with Matt, her hunky Chinese-American boyfriend, who works at the factory, drops out of school and wants to provide for her; Curt, her hunky Anglo boyfriend, who's dumb but sweet; and Annette, her loyal friend from the time they're in sixth grade. Throughout the stress of adolescence, Kimberly must also negotiate the tension between her mother's embarrassing old-world ways and the allurement of American culture. A straightforward and pleasant, if somewhat predictable narrative, marred in part by an ending that too blatantly tugs at the heartstrings. (Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2010)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
348822
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Kwok, Jean
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Chinese
  • Women immigrants
  • Chinese American teenagers
  • Mothers and daughters
  • Bildungsromans
  • New York (N.Y.)
Label
Girl in translation, Jean Kwok
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
293 pages
Isbn
9781594487569
Isbn Type
(hd.cov.)
Lccn
2009041041
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
  • (OCoLC)449284776
  • ocn449284776
  • OCoLC
Label
Girl in translation, Jean Kwok
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
293 pages
Isbn
9781594487569
Isbn Type
(hd.cov.)
Lccn
2009041041
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
  • (OCoLC)449284776
  • ocn449284776
  • OCoLC

Library Locations

    • Bluebonnet Regional Branch LibraryBorrow it
      9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA, 70810, US
      30.365310 -91.105254
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