Saturday, August 18, 2012

Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok: Unforgettable

I read a lot of things that I don't remember two hours after I read them.  In fact, some I can't even write a post about because I can't remember them.  This, however, is not one of them.

Kim and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to modern day America.  They end up in NYC, working in a sweat shop and living in an apartment with roaches, mice, windows broken out, and no heat.  Kim struggles through the American school system. There are relatives that exert power over their lives, and these relatives are jealous and small people, but there are good people on the outer border of their lives who offer a bit of compassion and friendship.   I couldn't put this book down.

Is this a fictionalized account of Jean Kwok's life?  I don't know.  All I know is that this story of family loyalty, integrity, hard work and the ability to survive under horrific circumstances, which they kept secret from everyone, moved me.

This book also made me aware of how little I know about conditions in America today.  Do kids still work in sweat shops?  Do employers still underpay their employees (making it impossible to leave) and force them to work in deplorable conditions?  Maybe it is time we all found out.

Yes, this book is fiction.  But... Kwok was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Brooklyn when she was a child where she worked in a sweatshop. 

I won't be forgetting Kwok's story any time soon.

Great book.


At August 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM , Blogger Jean Kwok said...

Thank you so much for this lovely review! It came up on my Google Alert. I'm very happy you enjoyed my book and have linked to it on my Facebook fan page:

I wrote a bit about how autobiographical the book is here:

And a recent Dutch television documentary recently followed me to my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, where we lived in an apartment exactly like the one in the novel, and even interviewed the real Annette! It's on the Events&Media tab on my website.

Thank you again for everything you're doing for people who love books!

All my best,
Jean Kwok

At September 6, 2012 at 10:41 AM , Anonymous Katie @Can't Get There said...

I have this tucked away as a Christmas gift from "Santa" - now I'm not sure I can wait that long!

(And how cool - a message from the author! Love when they reach out like that.)

At January 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM , Blogger A said...

The author messaged you! So cool! I am going to add this book to my future reading list.


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