Book Review: Girl in Translation

 Hello All! I feel like I'm starting to read a little slower, but I've just been pretty busy with life, work, and my second book about to come out (eeeep!) 😊 I've been working on this for a while, and I can't wait to share it with you all! Actually, I probably can wait because I am my own worst critic. Anyways, I'm still reading, just a little slower. And the next book I will be reviewing is a classic and is pretty heavy. But I will finish it hopefully by the of this month/early next month. Anyways, back to the book I'll be talking about today. I found this book at Half Price Books, while I was walking through the aisles, letting the books tell me what I wanted to read next. I came across the title, and I really like the movie, Lost in Translation, so I picked it up, read the back, was intrigued, and took it home with me. Here's my full my review of Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok.

About the Author

Jean Kwok is the award-winning, New York Times and international bestselling author of Searching for Sylvie LeeGirl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in twenty countries and taught in universities, colleges and high schools across the world.

Jean immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn when she was five and worked in a Chinatown clothing factory for much of her childhood while living in an unheated, roach-infested apartment. In between her undergraduate degree at Harvard and MFA in fiction at Columbia, she worked for three years as a professional ballroom dancer. Her beloved brother Kwan passed away in a tragic plane accident and was the inspiration behind Searching for Sylvie Lee. Jean is trilingual, fluent in Dutch, Chinese and English, and studied Latin for seven years. She lives in the Netherlands.

About the Book

When Kimberly Chang and her mother imigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life—the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition—Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself, back and forth, between the worlds she straddles.


The first thing I want to point out in my review is that I completely forgot I was reading a fictionish book. The characters felt so real to me, even in this story where you hope none of this is or was a reality for anyone. Our characters are based on real-life people, in a real-life situation. This gives relate-ability for our readers, giving us the ability to make the story relatable in our everyday live. Our author takes her real-world inspiration and creates life-like characters that make the reader cry, laugh, and cheer on. During my whole read-through, I found myself rooting for Kimberly and mom to get out of her horrible situation.

I also loved the author's theme of "blood isn't always thicker than water." We see Kimberly's aunt, her mother's sister, treat them horribly. She let's Kimberly and her mother live in poverty and let's them know they are below her. While strangers and friends have been on Kimberly and Kimberly's mom side, such as Annette and the store owner. We also see this with other characters, such as Matt who turned to Kimberly when his family tragedy happened.

Lastly, I appreciate the author's vulnerability. This wasn't the most light-heated story, but our author let's down her walls and opens our eyes to a reality some of us live.



Overall, Girl in Translation is an incredible, vulnerable story that is written as fiction, but is far from it. It's a beautifully, and heart wrenching read that I highly recommend.

Thank you for reading my review! Until next time, Happy Reading!
Watch my full review here! 


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