Friday, March 23, 2012

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, Read by Grayce Wey

So glad I finally got around to reading this 2011 Alex Award winner! I can see why it's still a bestseller.

Kimberly escapes Hong Kong when she's 11, but her life in New York City isn't very good.  Her aunt pays their way and for her mother's TB medications, and then forces them to live in a gross roach-infested room with no heat besides an oven.  Kimberly and her mother work in the aunt's factory for almost nothing, but eventually they are able to work their way out of the sweatshop. How? Through Kimberly's brain.  She's brilliant and able to receive scholarships to the best private schools in NYC and then into an Ivy League college. Through it all, she loves her mother and tries her best to "save" the two of them.

My one problem with the story is this. If Kimberly is so smart, you know she was learning about workers' rights and minimum wage laws in school in junior high. She knew child labor was illegal. So why didn't she try to help her mother get a better job? Why did Kimberly agree to work from after school to 9 pm to help get the paltry amount of money they received for working in the garment factory? It just didn't seem like Kim was the type of girl to accept her problem, especially when she was in high school.

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