About The Book



Girl in Translation
By Jean Kwok


The 2017-2018 One Book selection is Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation (2010, Riverhead Books). The novel has been translated into over 15 different languages.

 The novel was written for adults, but has a unique appeal to young adult readers as the story is about a young girl’s encounters with immigration, child labor, poverty, being bilingual, and excelling at school and becoming an American.

“A resolute yet naïve Chinese girl who confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok’s affecting coming-of-age debut. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died.

“Now she and her mother are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who funded their trip from Hong Kong, so they dutifully work for her in a Chinatown clothing factory where they earn barely enough to keep them alive. Despite this, and living in a condemned apartment that is without heat and full of roaches, Kimberly excels at school, perfects her English, and is eventually admitted to an elite, private high school.

“An obvious outsider, without money for new clothes or undergarments, she deals with added social pressures, only to be comforted by an understanding best friend, Annette, who lends her makeup and hands out American advice. A love interest at the factory leads to a surprising plot line, but it is the portrayal of Kimberly's relationship with her mother that makes this more than just another immigrant just another immigrant story.”







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Girl in Translation has won the American Library’s Outstanding Book for the College Bound (2011), Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award (2010), National Blue Ribbon Book (2010), Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick (2010), Indie Next Pick (2010), and more.


 The 2017-2018 One Book


  • Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to Present (2006, UC Press) By Judy Yung, Gordon Chang, and Hi Mark Lai.
  • Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans (2008, UC Press) By Jean Pfaelzer
  • The Indispensible Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (1975, UC Press) By Alexander Saxton
  • Racial Fault Lines: The Historical Origins of White Supremacy in California (1994, UC Press) By Tomás Almaguer
  • Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (2000, Norton) By Susan Lee Johnson



Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok http://www.jeankwok.com/book.shtml#girl

Author Speaks about Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5calS151BdQ

Becoming Chinese American by Bill Moyers http://www.pbs.org/becomingamerican/

Chinese Historical Society of America https://chsa.org/

A History of the Brooklyn Chinese-American http://www.bca.net/eng/about.html

Museum of Chinese in America http://www.mocanyc.org/



Girl in Translation is available in accessible formats. Please contact the High Tech Center of Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) at 916-278-7915. Please note that SSWD is only able to give access to alternative media for the One Book under certain conditions. Students must be registered with SSWD and be approved for alternative media accommodations at the High Tech Center. The student will need to provide proof of purchase. For more information, please contact SSWD at sswd@csus.edu or (916) 278-6955 or (916) 278-7239 (TTY) for assistance.

The One Book is also available through the University Library. You may also purchase the book at the Hornet Bookstore and through major booksellers.