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.