Book Club Kits
Girl in Translation
by Kwok, Jean
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1. Throughout Girl in Translation, the author uses creative spelling to show Kimberlys mis-hearing and misunderstanding of English words. How does the language of the novel evolve as Kimberly grows and matures? Do you see a change in the respective roles that English and Chinese play in the narrative as it progresses?
2. Kimberly has two love interests in the book. How are the relationships that Matt and Curt offer different? Why do you think she ultimately chooses one boy over the other? What does that choice say about her? Can you see a future for her with the other boy? What would change?
3. In many ways Kimberly takes over the position of head of household after her family moves to New York. Was this change in roles inevitable? How do you imagine Ma feels about it? Embarrassed? Grateful? In which ways does Ma still fulfill the role of mother?
4. Kimberly often refers to her father, and imagines how her life might have been different, easier, if he had lived. Do you think she is right?
5. Think about other immigrant stories. How is Kimberlys story universal? How is it unique? How does Kimberlys Chinese-American story compare to other immigrant stories? Would it change if she were from a different country or culture?
6. The story is set in the 1980s. Do you think immigrant experiences are much different today? What has changed? What has remained the same?
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