Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation
Jean Kwok
Riverhead, 2010

I have seen this listed on a lot of To-Read lists, and read several reviews, and let's be honest: the cover and title are pretty amazing. (Random sidenote: I wish my own hair would stay that nicely with a pencil stuck through it.) So when I saw it available at the library, I quickly scooped it up.

The story is straight-forward and chronological, after the initial chapter that is a little bit of a "Huh? Did I miss something?"-intro to the book. It makes sense later, after you've read the story of ah-Kim from beginning to end. Premise is simple: mother and young daughter immigrate from China to America, and do whatever it takes to survive. Ah-Kim is very smart, and quickly learns what needs to be done to rescue her mother and herself from their situation in life. Along the way, there are all sorts of 'normal' growing up adventures, and these are contrasted to the 'hidden' life of New York's Chinese.

For me, the book was just 'okay' -- it didn't have me hanging on every word, but I wasn't disgusted either. I kept reading, and was actually surprised by the ending. Did not see that one coming. At all. Kwok's ability to slip that in while leaving me, the reader, totally unawares of where the story was going earned a few points.

Book provided by my local library.

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