Sep 5, 2012

Book Review: Girl In Translation

I wanted to take a break from all of my party prepping to tell you about a really good book I read last week.  Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok. 

Ever since I became a Mom, I have the hardest time hearing about children who lose a parent, a parent losing a child or any hardship that a child has to face.  Not saying I was insensitive before Reed...I wasn't.  Heck I used to cry at cotton commercials (remember those really sappy ones with the dad and daughter dancing on her wedding day???)  Anyway...but this book combined with the news of the killings in Syria and the graphic images depicting them on the news had me in a full on sobbing mess.
The story is about a young girl, Kimberly, and her mother trying to make it in America after relocating from Hong Kong.  They are given just enough to get by from a stingy Aunt who should have gone to prison for the things she did such as employing children, pay well beyond minimum wage and horrible working conditions right in America.  They were forced to live in the projects in a dilapidated and probably condemned building because they didn't know any better. 
There was no heat and they had to keep the stove on night and day, the windows were broken so they had to put plastic over them to keep the cold air out.  Did I mention this was NYC?  There were roaches and rats that lived with them all year long...and on and on and on.  It was horrible but they made it.
This mother, who was from a prominent family in China and an accomplished music teacher in Hong Kong, fell in love, married and had a beautiful baby girl.  Her husband died young and she comes to America with the help of her sister.  Only to find that jealousy has overcome her sister's heart and she is forced to work in a factory, live on pennies and scrape by literally to keep her and her daughter alive.  All the while taking the time when she wasn't too worn out to play music for her daughter.
That is love, wonderful love and it is stronger than any challenge we can face.  In reading this story, I really felt for them.  How hard it was and unfair.  In the story, this mother and daughter make it.  In the end there is happiness...not a fairytale ending by any stretch of the imagination but happiness nonetheless.  Somehow I connected what I was reading to what happened in Syria.  It was so fresh on my mind having just seen it that evening on the news.  Sadly for those parents love wasn't enough.  I pray for them and I pray that some semblance of peace comes to that country. 
I know I sound very naive when I say how these things bother in the projects, mass murders.  I know that this is reality for many people and I feel fortunate to say it is not my reality.  I realize that this review is a bit scattered but I would definitely recommend this book.  It is written well and involves a story line filled with situations that you do not come across everyday.  Plus it makes you think.  Makes you question and makes you want the best for people.  And I don't think that is a bad thing.

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