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Extended Audio Sample Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (16,775 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jean Kwok Narrator: Grayce Wey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Introducing a fresh, exciting new voice, an inspiring debut about a Chinese immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures.

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life—like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition—Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic American immigrant novel—a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Part fairy tale, part autobiography…What puts this debut novel toward the top of the pile is its buoyant voice and its slightly subversive ending that suggests ‘happily ever after’ may have more to do with love of self and of family than with any old Prince Charming.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “At age 5, Kwok moved with her family from Hong Kong to a New York City slum…She has spun some of her experiences into this involving debut…Kwok drops you right inside Kimberly’s head, adding Chinese idioms to crisp dialogue. And the book’s lesson—that every choice comes at the expense of something else—hits home in any language.”

    People (3.5 stars)

  • “Writing in first-person from Kim’s point of view, Kwok cleverly employs phonetic spellings to illustrate her protagonist’s growing understanding of English and wide-eyed view of American teen culture. The author draws upon her own experience as a child laborer in New York, which adds a poignant layer to Girl in Translation.”

    USA Today

  • “The astonishing—and semi-autobiographical—tale of a girl from Hong Kong who, at age eleven, shoulders the weight of her mother’s American dream all the way from Chinatown sweatshop to the Ivy League.”


  • “I love how this book allowed me to see my own country, with all its cruelty and kindness, from a perspective so different from my own. I love how it invited me into the heart and mind of Kimberly Chang, whose hard choices will resonate with anyone who has sacrificed for a dream. Powerful storytelling kept me turning the pages quickly, but Kimberly’s voice—so smart and clear—will stay with me for a long time.”

    Laura Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Chaperone

  • “Drawing on her own experiences as an immigrant from Hong Kong, Kwok adeptly captures the hardships of the immigrant experience and the strength of the human spirit to survive and even excel despite the odds.”

    Library Journal

  • “Jean Kwok takes two well-trod literary conceits—coming of age and coming to America—and renders them surprisingly fresh in her fast-moving, clean-prosed immigrants’ tale.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • Selected for the May 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • Winner of the 2011 YALSA Alex Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ann | 2/18/2014

    " Wonderful, insightful, inspiring. An altogether good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Maria | 2/18/2014

    " Very good read. It was hard to put down. Utterly fascinating look into the life of a Chinese girl who has moved to America with her Mom and finds herself working in very poor conditions in a sweat shop by night, and going to a fancy prep school by day. The contrast is what makes the book really interesting. I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Devyn | 2/6/2014

    " I could not put it down. I was caught up in this book from the first paragraph to the last word. It was one of those...oh my, is it really 3 am and I just finished this book in one day? moments. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kimberly | 2/3/2014

    " Very inspirational story about a young immigrant's experience. This is not a "way back then" story - it's about coming to the U.S. in the 70s, and the work required just to survive. "

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