For today’s post I’ll be participating in the Diverse Books Blog Tour by my blogging friend and future librarian, Sammie. You can read Sammie’s introductory post on her blog The Bookwyrm’s Den.
About Tour the World in 30 Books:
This blog tour hosted by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den in support of her local public library’s Diverse Book Drive. The CCPL—a small, rural library in an area with a high poverty rate and a very homogeneous population, where people rarely have the means to travel or experience new perspectives. However, the library doesn’t believe that should stop people from learning more about the world around them, so they’re running a Diverse Book Drive through the month of September in an attempt to bring the rest of the world to the county instead. With a focus on MG and YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures.
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
I first read this book six years ago when it was nominated for YALSA’s Alex Award for best adult fiction for teens. And after the hundreds of books I’ve read since 2014, Kimberly’s story has stayed with me. Part immigrant story, part story of determination and perseverance in the face of unimaginable odds, Kimberly Chang’s story of moving to America from Hong Kong in the late 20th century will give you all the feels as they say.
For this post, I decided to do some character profiles. So let’s meet the characters!
Kimberly is an exceptionally bright girl who grows into an intelligent and successful young woman. Initially only speaking limited English, she overcomes the language barrier at school to surpass her peers in grades in almost every subject. Ahead in Math and Science she wows her teachers so much, they can’t believe she isn’t cheating. But sat home, she’s much more poor than she lets on to her best friend Annette. Kim and her Ma live in an unheated, roach and rat infested apartment and work in a sweatshop for her mother’s older sister. So poor they can barely afford to live after their debt is taken out of their pay by her aunt, Kim becomes determined to get herself and her Ma out of their situation at any cost. Her hard work, perseverance, and determination are one reason this story has stayed with me for so long.
A widow and former music teacher in Hong Kong, Ma plays the violin and piano beautifully. She married for love rather than for security, and while she never regrets that decision, it is costing her now. She believes her sister has brought them to America out of kindness, but is resigned to her fate when she finds out that her sister intends to use and Kimberly as slave labor in her husband’s factory. She encourages her daughter to do her best at school and not to challenge her aunt believing her sister will still help them out of love, but eventually comes to realize her sister doesn’t have their best interests at heart. She has a bit of the traditional, old fashioned tiger mom about her, but her love for her daughter shines through in everything she does to keep their family afloat.
Aunt Paula Yue
Ah, Aunt Paula. Cruel, manipulative, vindictive. I mean you really have to be to bring your sister and niece to America, lie to them, and then force them to work for you in your sweatshop and live in such conditions. She also tries to thwart them whenever Kimberly succeeds in school, including forbidding her from going to her chosen Ivy League college.
Kimberly’s first friend upon moving to America, and her only read friend at school. When Kimberly is laughed at for using the British English word for eraser (rubber embarrassingly enough) she kindly corrects her and lends Kim hers. And thus they become great friends. I suspect it is Annette’s parents that helped Kimberly get into the private Junior High as well. Annette sticks by her friend through school, and through thick and thin. Initially mad at Kimberly for not telling her the truth of her living situation when she finds out, she quickly comes up with a way to help Kimberly get them out of poverty. She even sticks by her friend during a difficult time, loyal to the end.
Initially friends with the class bully teasing Kimberly, the next year he comes to her defense when she’s accused of cheating and from then on treats her with kindness. Years later, he asks her for help in the subjects he struggles with to maintain his grades and the two slowly become friends. While he comes off as a bit of a slacker at first, he’s actually quite intelligent, just not in the same subjects as Kimberly. He instead proves to be a gifted and talented artist and woodworker channeling his energies there instead of into other subjects. Her turns out to be kind, caring, and sensitive going as far as to offer to help Kimberly out of a difficult situation, although she declines. He even makes her sculptures of her very own. Unfortunately for him, however, she doesn’t realize this is a sign of his affection and that his feelings for her are serious and go beyond friendship.
The boy from the factory who is the same age as Kimberly. They grow up friends and become attracted to one another as teenagers. Strong and confident, like Kimberly he’s had to grow up too fast. He supports his mom and disabled brother from a young age while his father abandons them. However, unlike the studious Kimberly and her classmates, Matt is a high school drop out. He also lacks her drive and ambition for a different life and wants to be the breadwinner of his future family, taking care of his wife, instead of the other way around. While he loves Kimberly, he can’t offer her the life she wants. He wants her to chose to stay in Chinatown forever with him rather than go off to college and get a degree.
I had hoped to also offer a fancast, but I ran of of time. I’m also not familiar enough with young Asian stars to properly cast Kimberly and Matt. But I’m open to suggestions!
Library Wish List Links:
Hardcover books are preferred, but not required, if anyone asks.
Blog tour book wishlists:
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3A68Y0WPKN944
- Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/wishlists/WCD650
- Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/wishlists/a745073e127380f9801a59a39ff7b960a5e9c70e
If you order a wish list book from Bookshop, please send a message to email@example.com so the book can be removed to avoid duplicate purchases, as I do not believe the site automatically removes the book from the list.
Other ways to donate:
- Amazon book idea wish list: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3OWBBXXOXVS2K
- Monetary donations: PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gently used or other new book donations mailed to:
Casey County Public Library
238 Middleburg St.
Liberty, KY 42539
Book donations are used at the discretion of the library.
It’s annoying legalese, but it needs to be there.
September 12: Jacob @ The Writer’s Alley – Forest of Souls
September 13: Keri @ Are You My Book – The Tea Dragon Society
September 14: Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight – The Space Between Worlds
September 15: Melissa @ Ramblings of a Jedi Librarian – Girl in Translation
September 16: Livy @ Shelves of Starlight – Clap When You Land
September 17: Crystal @ Lost in Storyland – American Born Chinese
September 18: Lili @ Lili’s Blissful Pages – A Wish in the Dark
September 19: Leslie @ Books Are The New Black – The Poppy War
September 20: Noura @ The Perks of Being Noura – Love From A to Z
September 21: Crini @ Crini’s – A Pale Light in the Black
September 22: Rachelle @ Rae’s Reads and Reviews – Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
September 23: Dini @ DiniPandaReads – Wicked As You Wish
September 24: Madeline @ Mad’s Books – Spin the Dawn
September 25: Tessa @ Narratess – Brace Yourself
September 26: Kimberly @ My Bookish Bliss – Truly Madly Royally
September 27: Rena @ Bookflirting 101 – Anna K: A Love Story
September 28: Susan @ Novel Lives – Burn the Dark
September 29: Arina @ The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
September 30: Maya @ http://mybookishbliss.com/ – Jackpot