For Ah-Kim, her new life in America was supposed to be an improvement over life in Hong Kong. But after 10 years in China, Brooklyn is a major adjustment. To survive, her mother has to work like a slave in a factory while Kimberly struggles not to fail in school — the one place in China where she’d thrived.
So, the book is the story of Kim’s double life — her school life, where, clearly gifted, she has to try so hard to fit in and succeed, and then her home life, working at the factory and living in a practically condemned apartment.
This book reminded me so much of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but with a great “immigrant” twist and a deep cultural presence. I loved learning English along with Kim when the author would write what our language sounded like to her, and I liked all the explanations of Chinese expressions.
I think Girl in Translation has heart. I liked watching Kim learn and grow. I finally learned to appreciate that she, and especially her mom, did things differently than I would because of our cultural differences, and once I let that vague irritation go, I was able to relax a lot more when reading.
If you adored A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this one. And even if you haven’t read that yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if you liked it anyway.
Rated: Mild, for five mild expletives and one mild sexual scene