Girl In Translation

Kwok, Jean

  11 Reviews

Arriving on American shores from Hong Kong, eleven year old Kimberley Chang and her mother are destined for the hardship, struggle and the cultural dissonance that characterises the live of migrants.

From the sweatshops and poverty of New York slums to the possibility of a better life, this is a story of determination, hope and battling against the odds. Insightful and inspirational.

Comments from Groups

Score 7 out of 10, a thoughtful read - do our immigrants/refugees get treated the same way? Lower Hutt 009

Ratings ranged from 3 to 10, average 7.6. The ending and the love interest were the main shortcomings. The two women with Asian daughters-in-law both rated it very highly. Nelson 022

This book promoted much discussion as to whether our views have changed towards immigrants. Readers did not think we took enough interest in how immigrants settled into New Zealand. Tauranga 023

We all enjoyed the book and realised how this illegal practice of exploiting new migrants goes on pretty much everywhere. We found it difficult to understand how some cultures can place their own family members in such a position where they must accept that treatment. How young people can rise to excellence under such difficulty is also amazing. A few wondered why the book wasn't a 'memoir' when it was obviously the story of the author's life. Perhaps to 'protect' family? We enjoyed the writing ie/ the phonetic examples used to show how the migrant hears the new language. Hamilton 026

We enjoyed the book, but thought that in many places it was too good to be true. It was therefore just as well it was written as fiction! However, the section on her work in the sweatshop rang true. This was something the author had experience of. Our discussion was lively and sustained given that immigration is a much discussed issue at the moment. Lower Hutt 004

A novel showing the difficulties encountered when emmigrating to a very different culture, while being dependant on exacting relatives who jealously try to better themselves at the newcomers' expense. Kimberly disciplines herself to a double life of sweatshop worker and serious student, finally giving herself and her mother a better life. While being an easy read, Kimberly's journey takes us on a roller coaster ride made pertinent being written in the first person, cleverly using phonetic spelling of American drawl to illustrate the confusian of language complexities. Will anticipate more from Jean Kwok. Katikati 001

All read it and most enjoyed it, but were not really enthusiastic. Some felt the ending was somewhat hasty, and too good to be credible! Just an easy read really. Napier 016

An excellent semi-autobiographical account of hardships endured, ambition, cultural differences and overcoming adversity. Tekapo 001

Opinions varied - the variety of members enjoyed this book. Others did not. Interesting discussion!! The critics would have preferred a true autobiography written by the author - not using her own experience as the basis of a novel..... Diamond Harbour 001

We went from the extreme of 4/10 to 10/10. The questions provided good discussion points, and those of us who have worked with children/adults who have come to NZ with little English, had a better grasp of the difficulties these people face.....Coromandel 003

Fantastic book - probably the favourite for our group this year. It was inspiring, and provided great insight into the barriers that immigrants may face when embarking on a new life in a foreign country. Te Awamutu 004

Good book, all enjoyed. We felt the ending petered off a little, and became more 'Mills & Boon', as Kimberly behaved in a very 'out of character' way. Excellent portrayal of immigrant life in USA and difficulties faced - common to NZ. Good discussion re current refugee issue! Cromwell 004



We all loved this book; we were amazed by the fortitude of both mother and daughter. Recommend this book to other groups.
Would encourage ALL book clubs to read this absolutely compelling, hard to put down book. A story of hardship, triumph, and how one deals with this...
CHCH 397
Insightful, well-written and interesting. Everyone liked it!! This never happens!
NEWP 012
100% read rate. 100% enjoyment. Loved story and characters - great discussion re family/exploitation/immigration/refugees/ current political situation. We really recommend this book.
DIAM 001
Opinions varied - the majority of members enjoyed this book. Others did not. Interesting discussion!! The critics would have preferred a true autobiography written by the author, instead of using her own experience as the basis for a novel. Well written, an easy read and a true translation of race, colour, language and culture.
Everybody loved this book. It is written in a lively, interesting style, and the central character is most sympathetic. It's a brilliant account of what it is like to be an immigrant in a strange culture. Heartily recommended for an easy yet stimulating read.
We all loved this book!
GISB 006
Great book. Easy to read but with real content challenges. A real 'eye opener'.
TAUP 005
Everyone enjoyed reading this book. It gave insight into some migrants' difficulties and how they could be exploited, and also into American children's ways of behaving. Well worth reading for how it relates to immigrants' experiences in NZ too.
This was our first BDS book. We all loved getting the book at the same time, and it was like Xmas opening the package. The book showed all of us a side of New York we didn't know.
AUCK 389
Easy read from a talented young woman. Depicted poverty and social divides along with cultural practices.