Jean Kwok was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to Brooklyn, New York as a child. She received her bachelor's degree from Harvard and completed an MFA in fiction at Columbia University. After working as an English teacher and Dutch-English translator at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Jean now writes full-time. This is her first novel.
Living in squalor among rats and roaches in a virtually abandoned unheated apartment building in Brooklyn, NY, 11-year-old Kimberly Chang narrates how, after recently immigrating from Hong Kong, she and her mother strive to eke out a life together working in an illegally run sweat shop. Though she was once the top-ranked pupil in her class in Hong Kong, Kimberly's English skills are so limited that she must struggle to keep up in school while still translating for her mother and attempting to hide the truth of her living situation from her well-to-do classmates and only true friend, Annette. Drawing on her own experiences as an immigrant from Hong Kong (though she herself went to Harvard and Columbia, while Kimberly earns a spot at Yale), Kwok adeptly captures the hardships of the immigrant experience and the strength of the human spirit to survive and even excel despite the odds. Verdict Reminiscent of An Na's award-winning work for younger readers, A Step from Heaven, this work will appeal to both adults and teens and is appropriate for larger public libraries, especially those serving large Asian American populations.-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. Lib., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Warm, affecting, a compelling pleasure. Manages that rare fictional feat of shifting forever the angle from which you look at the world * Daily Mail * A sensitively handled rites-of-passage account . . . has the unmistakable ring of authenticity * Metro * Amazing, an incredibly honest and powerful story, written with unflinching directness * Easy Living * Astonishing * Vogue * Dazzling * Marie Claire * A classic and moving immigration story * Red * Captivating * She * Superbly written and observed * Woman and Home *
This audiobook is the perfect match of narrator and material. Grayce Wey's performance as immigrant Kimberly Chang feels absolutely authentic. As the adult Kimberly looking back at her life, Wey has just a touch of a Chinese accent (appropriate for a character who's lived in America for two decades), and her tone conveys bittersweet regret even while knowing she made the right choice. But when speaking as the younger, newly arrived Kimberly, Wey's Chinese accent is much heavier, and we can hear Kimberly's confusion, anxiety, and struggle to adjust to this new culture. Wey perfectly evokes Kimberly's growing assertiveness and determination, her teenage longing, joy, and pain when falling in love for the first time, and her conflicted feelings when making difficult decisions about her path in life. A moving and memorable listen. A Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 15). (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.