Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Published April 29, 2010
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
Another book that I am finally happy to check off on my TBR list – it has been there forever but somehow I was unable to access a copy of it.  Thankfully my new library had an audiobook version so I was able to quickly snag it. 

There are definitely a few things I want to comment on for this book – they are not in any particular order with some good and some bad.
  1. Since I read this book via audiobook, the narrator did an obnoxious job of enhancing the Chinese accent.  I would have to give her credit for doing the Hong Kong accent accurately but it didn’t really make sense in this book.  It would have made more sense when she used the accent when the characters were actually speaking English to each other but it seemed that for most of the book, they were actually speaking Chinese to each other or when Kimberly was thinking to herself.  In which case, they shouldn’t have any sort of Hong Kong English accent going on.  So I’m just not really sure why the author did this.  Not sure if this is a form of passive racism but it was definitely irksome.
  2. I actually learned a lot and started to really empathize with the character, Kimberly.  A lot of her struggles were actually relevant to my childhood as well but in a more intense way since she wasn’t from here and really had to struggle with the language and the culture.  So while I didn’t really understand her in that sense, other things such as “saving face” and whatnot was pretty common in an Asian household. 
  3. Out of the male characters, I was actually rooting for Curt instead of Matt because Curt would have been better for her.  Yes, Matt resonated with her due to her culture but they clearly had very different lifestyles and expectations.  Whereas Curt was raised in a well-to-do background and was expected to do relatively great things.  So for me, in terms of life achievements, it was clear to me who she should have gone with.  However, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants so while I didn’t agree with her choice, I could respect it.
  4. That being said, I was a little disappointed to read the ending.  I honestly thought things would go one way but it clearly didn’t and it seemed a little abrupt when I found out.  However, at the same time, I was glad to see where Kimberly ended up at and how her life was doing.  So while I didn’t agree with some of her choices by that point, I was glad in some other areas.  I guess the ending was bittersweet for me.
Overall, the book was actually really interesting.  I learned a lot about Chinese factory life in America – I honestly did not realize that it was actually history.  I went online to look this up after reading the book.  It was just crazy to think that factory workers with that kind of wages and environment was able to thrive.  Well, thrive to some degree.  I would definitely recommend this book for people who want to learn more about how NYC was back in the mid to late 1900s and learn about how Chinese migrants were treated in that time.  

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