Just so you know, I don’t cry easily at books. But any book that makes me cry pretty much automatically wins a spot in my top books of the year and so Girl in Translation will make that list. I was deeply drawn in by the main character, a little girl from Hong Kong trying to figure out life in a New York City garment industry sweatshop and an American school. I think the author, Jean Kwok, did an excellent job balancing descriptions of squalid living conditions and seemingly insurmountable obstacles with the fierce hope of a better life.
I love books that deal with issues like being an outsider, forging identity between two competing worlds, and overcoming adversity. I started to care so deeply about the character that at one point when something bad happened that I thought might keep her from her goal, I burst into tears. I was incredibly relieved when the ending contained a few surprising (and well done) twists that resolved my fear for the character, but I also respect the author’s ability to portray how major life choices are never cut and dried – choosing one thing always means losing another.
Because the book is so well written, the characters so sympathetic and well drawn, and the themes so vivid and thoughtful, I highly recommend it, and am certainly adding Girl in Translation to my Year in Books 2010 post, which should be upcoming in the next few weeks!
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