How "Girl in Translation" made me feel


 Title: Girl in Translation
(Riverhead, 2010. 303 pages)
Brazilian Title: Garota, Traduzida 
(Suma de Letras, 2011. 240 páginas)
Author: Jean Kwok
To buy: Amazon / BetterWorldBooks / BookDepository



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 novel of an American immigrant--a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation. 


In my Portuguese review for this book I only talked about the way Kim would "fight" to find her place in this world in spite of everything else around her.
I didn't mention the love of her life.
I didn't mention how I felt days after I had finished this book. How I was overwhelmed by a bittersweet feeling of  "what if".
What if Kim had made different decisions? What if Matt had done everything different too?
I kept thinking about it over and over and for some weird reason I just couldn't shake that feeling off. It took me a while, but then finally I was fine again.

The end of the book is a surprise. Good or bad, that's for each reader to decide. Most of the time I didn't like it, but then there's the point about how Kim starts to behave halfway through the book.
Personally, I don't think she would have done anything but what she ended up doing. She had to choose and so she did.
As Sandy Leah sings: "Vencer também traz perdas."* (Victory also brings losses). And it does. That could be the perfect sentence to translate what "Girl in Translation" is all about.

Questions: Have you ever felt a book getting to you like that? After you finished it, you couldn't forget it easily? Which one?



*Duras Pedras, Manuscrito (2010). Copyright: Universal Music.
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