Format: Unabridged Audio
Purchase: Indie Bound
Challenge: 2012 Audio Book Challenge
I won this book some time ago from Jenny at Take me Away. I knew it would be a book I would love, having been a fan of novels about Chinese American culture. My change, however, is that I ended up listening to it on audio instead. This year is proving to me The Year of the Audio for me. I am now on my fifth audio book and am really loving it! I am starting to discover the nuances of audio books; what makes them great and what can make them suck. For me, the big screw up factor is if the narrator stinks or is not believable in some way. I tried listening to The Ice Princess by Camille Lackberg, a swedish mystery and the narrator was awful! First it was a male narrator for a female protagonist (duh) and he talked in a really high squeaky voice during her dialogue parts. ugh.
Anyway, I digress.
Grayce Way, the narrator for Girl in Translation was absolutely amazing. Riveting. Talented. Just plain wow. She had the subtle differences within each character down pat. The story is about a Chinese American family, mostly a mother and daughter. The mother knows very little english and the daughter, having arrived from Hong Kong at the age of 8, learns quickly how to speak English and translate for her mother. The narrator really could portray those differences in language and really gave each character such a unique voice.
The story is about Kimberly Chang, a young girl who moves from Hong Kong with her mother to work in her aunt's clothing factory in Brooklyn. Having accrued quite a bit of debt from the trip over and some medical issues of her mother, Kimberly is indebted to her aunt and forced to work at the factory after school. They live in a cold, dank, run down apartment close to the factory arranged for them by the aunt.
Things are grim but the one thing Kimberly has going for her is her school smarts. Exceptionally brilliant and hard working, she knows the way out for her and her mother, lies in her doing well in school, getting into a great college and having a promising career.
What she struggles with through it all is her language barrier, discrimination that prevents her from being taken seriously, and her secret life of working in the factory and
living in filth.
Kimberly is tough, though, you come to find out. Not just smart but strong inside. She fights the bullies, she finds a friend, she continues to work hard and get good grades. Soon enough, the right people notice and give her the opportunity to go to a good private high school.
The whole experience of listening to this book was wonderful. Kimberly's story goes from her awkward childhood to a more confident adult. You experience her struggles with remaining loyal to her family and to the young man she meets at the factory, Matt while also pursing her dreams and living in a much different, affluent white world.
I highly recommend this. I'm sure I would have enjoyed reading the book as well but listening to it brought so much passion, emotion, and life to it all. I felt for Kimberly the whole time and just wanted her to succeed. She was such a lovely character to follow and listen to.
If you are a fan of Chinese American culture or mother/daughter stories, this is for you. It was simply a joy to listen to and I look forward to another novel by Jean Kwok.
Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!
red headed book child