Ah! What a wonderful, wonderful read! I have decided to adopt Diane's philosophy and start reading the books that I really want to read first....not forcing myself to read every book out there. So for me, that has meant bumping a few of the books I have from the library that I have been looking forward to, to the top of my stack instead of waiting and waiting to read them.
Thus, I started Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok last night and finished it this morning. I just could not put it down - I can see why it has been getting a lot of press.
Kimberly and her mother have come to the United States from Hong Kong after Kimberly's father dies. Her aunt, Paula (her mother's sister) is already in the United States and is sponsoring her sister and niece. However, when they arrive, Paula puts her relatives to work in the sweat shop she and her husband run. Despite this, and living in a condemned building that lacks heat, Kimberly and her mother work to find the American dream. Kimberly, with her brilliant mind and the help of some teachers and friends is able to continue pursuing her education despite their extreme poverty.
Despite all the initial sadness that Kimberly and her mother experience and the many things they must overcome, this is still a feel-good book, providing an ending that made me smile. This is one book that a review cannot do justice to, but that I can happily recommend to many friends and will appeal to a wide audience.
Kwok's own biography on the back jacket makes me wonder how much of Kimberly's story is autobiographical. She came to the United States from Hong Kong, like Kimberly, and also worked in a sweatshop. Like Kimberly, her story has a happy ending as well. Hopefully this is just the start of Kwok's writing career.