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Girl in Translation speaks to any reader

Author+Jean+Kwok+talks+about+her+book+Girl+in+Translation
Author Jean Kwok talks about her book Girl in Translation

Author Jean Kwok talks about her book Girl in Translation

courtesy of Penguin Random House YouTube channel

courtesy of Penguin Random House YouTube channel

Author Jean Kwok talks about her book Girl in Translation

Abril Dominguez, Reporter

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I did not sleep the day I read Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. In fact, it’s one of the few books I have ever read cover to cover in a 24 hour period. Yeah, that’s right. I started reading it early in the morning one summer day and didn’t put it down until I finished it.

Girl in Translation is a fictional novel about the life of Kimberly Chang, a girl who emigrates from Hong Kong with her mother at the age of eleven, following her father’s death. From the very beginning, we see the unfortunate realities of the American Dream, as Kim and her mother live in squalor and work at a sweatshop, barely making ends meet. The novel documents their experiences from Kim’s perspective, up to the day she finishes her graduate studies.

I think what prevented me from putting the book down was how much I came to like the protagonist, Kim. I don’t want to spoil the book, so I’ll be as vague as possible.

Kim is so admirable. Even as a young girl, she’s hardworking and so, so selfless. Despite all the bitterness she has to overcome, she continues fighting because she recognizes how much is at stake. She grows up to be a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and pursues it.

After reading Girl in Translation for a second time, I realized how important of a theme ambition is in the book. Many times, Kim must decide whether to give in to the low expectations of others or to travel into the unknown and try to attain a better life for her and her mom. Kwok emphasizes the contrast between the results of giving up versus persevering through the discomfort and discouragement by having various characters make distinct choices.

Moreover, I applaud Kwok for managing to make the romance between Kim and Matt un-cliche, for the most part. You see them meet and become friends as kids. It’s not an instance of “love at first sight”, so when they do express their love for one another later on, it feels genuine, not some superficial fling dictated by their physical attractiveness.  

Girl in Translation is a beautifully-crafted book, overflowing with eloquent language. I’m not going to lie, I even cried at some parts. I recall having to stop and re-read several sentences because I was just so impressed by their originality and ability to fully capture certain emotions. Overall, it’s an excellent book, but my only complaint is that the ending seemed a bit rushed, like the author just wanted to get the book done and over with. This is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to books.

I like to focus on the good that exists in the world. I root for the underdog and Girl in Translation does not disappoint.

 

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Girl in Translation speaks to any reader