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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful
This is a first novel and I do so hope there will be more. Wonderful writing, great characters and a haunting, touching and totally beleivable tale. It is always great to discover a book that is good and different - I cannot think what to compare this to, which is good, a real find. Highly recommended.
Published on 3 July 2011 by Amazon Customer

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing but superficial
I am guessing I will be in a minority giving this only three stars and perhaps I am being a bit harsh. It is a very readable account of a young Chinese girl growing up in New York under harsh, exploitative conditions. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but as I got closer to the end it started to pall a bit. The descriptions of her outstanding genius which never faltered...
Published on 30 Aug 2010 by Tamara L


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing but superficial, 30 Aug 2010
By 
Tamara L (North West England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
I am guessing I will be in a minority giving this only three stars and perhaps I am being a bit harsh. It is a very readable account of a young Chinese girl growing up in New York under harsh, exploitative conditions. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but as I got closer to the end it started to pall a bit. The descriptions of her outstanding genius which never faltered under any circumstances - Scoring off-the-scale in tests even after being up all night and having poor English etc, got a bit tiresome, and the grinding poverty was all very Angela's Ashes - the Chinese American Version. What started as a promising Coming of Age novel turned into a cliched romance, albeit a thwarted one. Enjoyable but ultimately superficial. Not in the same league as Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld which covers similar adolescent emotional territory about feeling like an outsider. A good read if that's what you're looking for but ultimately a let down if you want something with more depth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural and captivating, 17 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
This book isn't really like anything I've read before. Numerous times I had to check and remind myself that it wasn't actually a memoir - the authenticity of this book is amazing. Kimberly's voice is so very real. I didn't agree with a few of the things that she thought and this didn't particularly make me warm to her, but I understand and expect her thoughts to be different to my own, thanks to her culture. This book gives a very good insight of a Chinese mother and daughter who have immigrated into America - a very different society and culture to that which they are accustomed to. The struggles of the Changs were well documented and quite powerful - from the language difference to the difficult working and living conditions. I found the romance in this book to be very touching and the ending was not very expected. Although it was a quite open ending, it also wrapped up most things that had been discussed. This is a fantastic debut novel from Kwok and it's something that I would recommend to anyone looking for a different, cultural read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful, 3 July 2011
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
This is a first novel and I do so hope there will be more. Wonderful writing, great characters and a haunting, touching and totally beleivable tale. It is always great to discover a book that is good and different - I cannot think what to compare this to, which is good, a real find. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rags to Riches..., 7 Dec 2010
By 
Rebecca Roberts (North and Mid Wales) - See all my reviews
After the death of her husband, a mother and daughter leave their homeland of Hong Kong to stay with a relative in New York.
This is the New York that few people see....the daily grind of sweatshops, the poverty that still exists behind closed doors and the lives that run parallel to home grown Americans.
Jean Kwok manages to convey how it feels to be a foreigner and the language barriers that exist. However, underlying all the problems and the poverty, the realisation that there is a way out...and that the daughter has the key to their future.
Along the journey, we laugh and cry, understand and empathise with the daughter, and recall those first pangs of true love...a simple and beautifully written book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, but lightweight, 25 Oct 2010
By 
L. J. Lloyd (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
This book is extremely readable, and is what I'd describe as a holiday read, i.e. something to read at the poolside, with not too much thought or effort needed. If that's the kind of book you are looking for then I would definitely recommend it.

However, if you are looking for something deeper and meatier this is not the book for you. The really important issues that this book deals with (the language and cultural issues that immigrants have to deal with, and the conditions people working in sweatshops encounter) are dealt with in a lightweight manner. I didn't really feel the book conveyed a realistic portrayal of people living and working in these communities, and there were several side storylines which started up and sounded really interesting, but then they fizzled out into nothing.

It didn't make me want to read Jean Kwok's next book. Overall I found it ok, but slightly disappointing.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Girl in Translation, 12 Sep 2010
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
I thought this was a beautifully written novel and I throughly enjoyed it, staying up till 4:30am and finishing it in one go.

It tells the story of a young chinese girl and her mother who move to New York from Hong Kong with the assistance of her Auntie who moved to America years earlier.
Once they have arrived however they find that life in the US is not what they had anticipated, living in squalid conditions, working in a sweatshop, paying off debts.
The story is written from the perspective of the protaganist, Kim, but also details the life of her mother, her auntie and cousin, some of the other sweatshop workers and her peers at school.
The story is often harrowing, but the prose and style prevents it from becoming too maudlin, and there is a sense of hope that pervades.

I would recommend this book, although it does not always make for pleasant reading it is written very well and is largely believeable.
People who enjoy this may also enjoy The Calligrapher's Daughter
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under the carpet, 21 Oct 2010
By 
P. Hawkins "broomhandle" (Staffordshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
It may be a fictional account but this is the other side of the American Dream: the sacrifices made in order to gain American citizenship. Jean Kwok's heroine and her mother experience a side of life we wouldn't expect to exist in New York - working for a pittance in a sweatshop, child labour, slum living, isolation. Yet it is written with conviction and style. A nice readable book but one with a message too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good, heartwarming, read but could have been so much more, 19 May 2014
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Being an ethnic minority, I've always enjoyed reading books about the immigrant experience. I found the first half of the book enjoyable. It had all the makings of a great novel - poor immigrant suffering horrific living conditions and poverty in a bid to have a better life. I liked seeing the world through Kimberly's eyes and reading about her harsh experiences of working in a factory and trying to fit into American life. However, I found the second half of the book became more like a YA love story and in some ways soured the story. It was as if the narrative switched to become a story about puppy love, crushes and love triangles.

The author could have gone further with this book in covering more in depth feelings about identity issues, fitting in, racism etc. which are all very much part of many immigrant's experiences. I felt that I did not get a chance to get to know the characters as well as I wanted to as everything was very much on the surface. But saying that, I would consider reading this writer's next book as she definitely writes well. If you are looking for a feel good story - a beach read this is it. If you want a more in-depth book about the being an immigrant in a foreign land or find love stories soppy than this isn't for you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A delusion of fiction, 20 Jan 2014
This review is from: Girl in Translation (Paperback)
GIRL IN TRANSLATION is (yet another) `coming to America' book by a female Asian immigrant. It might be sold as a novel, but it certainly isn't.

After her father dies, sixth grader Kim comes to New York from Hong Kong with her mother. Kim as always top of her class back in HK and her mother was a school teacher. In NY they work in a sweatshop. A standard set of cultural misunderstandings occurs. Kim is indeed a clever child who soon goes to a private school, but still spends most of her free time at the sweatshop where she becomes close with Matt, who is the same age as her, but considerably more streetwise. Admitted to Yale, Kim quickly becomes pregnant... [spoiler deleted]

What can I say? GIRL IN TRANSLATION is a perfectly adequate example of its type, with nothing exceptional about it. It's a nice, silly, (or maybe heartwarming, depending on your POV) and no doubt many readers will enjoy it.

I found everything about it formulaic, predictable and dull. Many of the `anecdotes' are clearly doctored perhaps by a romantically flawed memory, or perhaps by the delusion the `fiction' is being created.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 14 Sep 2013
A book about a young girl experiencing the pull between two different cultures is very dear to my heart and whilst I should be shocked at what Kimberley and her mother had to go through whilst living in the richest country in the world, unfortunately I am not, and although this is a work of fiction, I am sure it could also be a realistic autobiography for many.

I really enjoyed it. I loved the mentions of Hong Kong and little bits of Chinese culture that I can relate to (yes, I always drink boiled water). The ending was just so bittersweet. I really wish there was a sequel. Anyway, I definitely recommend to those who want an insight to what life is like for many Chinese people who have moved to America for a better life but also to those who would enjoy a coming of age book, a story of one young girl who doesn't fit in with the American high school stereotypes.
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Girl in Translation
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (Paperback - 29 July 2010)
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