EVERY decade or so a book comes along to move the hearts of a generation. Last decade, that book was The Kite Runner. The same American publishers have chosen Girl in Translation, partly based on the author’s own experiences, as their number one choice for 2010.
Kimberly Chang has always dreamed of seeing New York, ‘Min-hat-on’, the skyscrapers and, most of all, the Liberty goddess. But when she and her mother get the opportunity to leave Hong Kong to make their lives in the US, the reality she discovers is shockingly different.
Her aunt, married to a property tycoon who runs sweatshops in Chinatown, puts them into a vermin-infested apartment in a condemned building where the broken windows are patched up with bin liners and the oven is their only source of heat .
As Kimberly’s mother owes her sister and brother-in-law a fortune for flight tickets and medical bills, the future looks bleak. She is bound to work for them, for two cents per garment, with her daughter helping her after school. Here, Kimberly meets Matt, a boy who has had to drop out of school to work for his family.
But 11-year-old Kimberly is intellectually gifted and in spite of her almost total lack of English, she gradually makes headway (learning the dictionary by heart). She also protects her illiterate mother who speaks no English and is constantly exploited.
It is her spirit and wit that helps Kimberly tackle the seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead. Protective of her mother, when difficult decisions have to be made, she makes them alone.
In this evocative début about a singular bond between mother and daughter, and the power of education to transform lives, Kwok’s quiet narrative voice steals up on you and captures your heart.
PREMIER LEAGUE:Southampton v Man CityManchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has reiterated how highly he rates Sergio Aguero, emphasising that he regards the Argentina international as a better all-round player than Luis Suarez.
South Africans united in mourning for Nelson Mandela yesterday, but while some celebrated his remarkable life with dance and song, others fretted that the anti-apartheid hero's death would make the nation vulnerable again to racial and social tensions.
HEINEKEN CUP POOL SIX:Munster v PerpignanMunster will go in to their must-win Heineken Cup clash with Pool 1 leaders Perpignan tomorrow intending to meet fire with fire against a powerful French Top 14 side at Thomond Park.
The grandmother of a toddler with Down's syndrome has been waiting a year for a response from the Taoiseach and three government ministers to correspondence about disability cuts referred to them on her behalf by the troika.