A love story: “Girl in Translation” by Jean Kwok

This fiction is about the translation of a little girl, who came from
Hong Kong with her mother,  from an under-age illegal worker at New York
Chinatown to a successful doctor. I think that most first generation
immigrates from mainland China, or Hong Kong, or Taiwan, can see some
part of themselves in the characters of the book. The girl’s successful
escape from the sweatshop that she and her mother worked in sounds like a
modern fairy tale, a touching and encouraging one.

Though it
really made me feel happy when I read that the little girl finally said
good-bye to her evil aunt who hired her and her mother with minimum
salary, and gave them inhumane working and living conditions, I felt a
little bit sad when I closed the book. Kimberly the girl, has to have a
talent at school to rescue herself and her mother. Her success came from
her great courage and persistence under extreme hard environments, but
behind all the hardworking her outstanding intelligence was the key to
everything. What if she was not super smart? What if her talent is not
at school, not a type that can be discovered, and measured early when
she was a young kid? Would she still be able to find a way out? For most
kids from poor immigrant families, maybe Matt, Kimberly’s ex-boyfriend
who would live his whole life in Chinatown, is their best and practical
example.

When achieving her translation, Kimberly had to give up
some other precious part of her life, her true love. In Chinese
tradition, a perfect marriage should be formed by two persons with
similar family backgrounds. In idealist’s eyes, the old saying is
nothing more than a violation of true love. However, the author of this
book chose to force her characters to obey this traditional law.

I
enjoy reading this book which inspired me to think, self-examine, and
retrospect, though I have to say the ending, kissing good-bye with
heart-broken tears in light rain, is a bit Hollywood drama-like. For
more details about book, here is a nice website of the author
http://jeankwok.net/.

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