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Fiction Review – Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

I recently read Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown in one day.  It was so good I could not put it down.  So when I realized I had missed Kwok’s debut novel Girl in Translation I immediately ordered it.  I was not disappointed! I think I have a new author to add to my list of favorites.

In Girl in Translation we are introduced to Kimberly Chang, a sharp, intuitive, and intelligent girl who has just immigrated to the US (Brooklyn) from Hong Kong.  Her mother’s belief in family tradition and resulting dependence on their family for protection and assistance creates mixed emotions and doubt in Kimberly. Girl in Translation is Kimberly finding herself in a new country by finding her voice and strength.

Girl in Translation is so skillfully written. As a reader I felt connected to Kimberly on a deeper level because I almost felt that I was learning to translate the American experience along with her. Her coming of age is a story universally understood but Kimberly’s coming of age took on new complexity and depth due to her experiences and challenges.

Kwok has a straight-forward and poignant writing style that creates a realistic point of view and experiences for her characters.  Kwok provides such realistic portrayals of life for immigrants from Hong Kong that it seems effortless but I know it must be crafted with deep emotion, honesty, and understanding.  I highly recommend both Mambo in Chinatown and Girl in Translation.

 

 

 

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