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 Chang

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.

Ma/Mrs. Chang

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.

Annette Avery

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.

Matt Wu

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:

If you order a wish list book from Bookshop, please send a message to 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:

Book donations are used at the discretion of the library.

It’s annoying legalese, but it needs to be there.

Tour schedule:

September 1: Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den – Introduction, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears || Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn ReadsDating Makes Perfect

September 2: Lauren @ Always MeThe Epic Crush of Genie Lo

September 3: Toya @ The Reading ChemistFelix Ever After

September 4: Michelle @ Carry A Big BookSharks in the Time of Saviors

September 5: Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICAThe Astonishing Color of After

September 6: Maria @ A Daughter of Parchment and PaperPatron Saints of Nothing

September 7: Bri @ Bri’s Book NookTrue Friends (Carmen Browne)

September 8: Bec @ bec&booksLobizona || Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Storydiverse TTT

September 9: Sienna @ Daydreaming Book Lover Loveless

September 10: Kerri @ Kerri McBookNerdRaybearer

September 11: Noly @ The Artsy ReaderThe Name Jar

September 12: Jacob @ The Writer’s AlleyForest of Souls

September 13: Keri @ Are You My BookThe Tea Dragon Society

September 14: Shannon @ It Starts at MidnightThe Space Between Worlds

September 15: Melissa @ Ramblings of a Jedi LibrarianGirl in Translation

September 16: Livy @ Shelves of StarlightClap When You Land

September 17: Crystal @ Lost in StorylandAmerican Born Chinese

September 18: Lili @ Lili’s Blissful PagesA Wish in the Dark

September 19: Leslie @ Books Are The New BlackThe Poppy War

September 20: Noura @ The Perks of Being NouraLove From A to Z

September 21: Crini @ Crini’sA Pale Light in the Black

September 22: Rachelle @ Rae’s Reads and ReviewsDear Haiti, Love Alaine

September 23: Dini @ DiniPandaReadsWicked As You Wish

September 24: Madeline @ Mad’s BooksSpin the Dawn

September 25: Tessa @ NarratessBrace Yourself

September 26: Kimberly @ My Bookish BlissTruly Madly Royally

September 27: Rena @ Bookflirting 101Anna K: A Love Story

September 28: Susan @ Novel LivesBurn the Dark

September 29: Arina @ The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the GalaxyA Song of Wraiths and Ruin

September 30: Maya @

5 thoughts on “Diverse Book Blog Tour: Girl in Translation

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