Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Kimberly Chang was the smartest student in her class in Hong Kong, but in Brooklyn, her language difficulties are a limiting factor.  Then after school she works with her mother in a sweatshop owned by her mother's haughty sister, Paula.  Aunt Paula also sets Kimberly and her mother up in an apartment, but it's a ramshackle, roach-infested dump with no heat.  The upside of working in the factory is that Kimberly meets Matt, who is also helping his mother meet production quotas.  Eventually, Kimberly proves herself a scholar in math and science and earns an opportunity to attend Harrison, an expensive prep school.  She juggles school and work and keeping all of her classmates, including her best friend Annette, in the dark about how destitute she and her mother are.  Achieving so much with so few resources is quite a feat, but her life as a normal teenager suffers, even though her aloofness is actually a turn-on for some of the boys at school.  We know from the start that either her future as a surgeon or her relationship with Matt is doomed, because he will never allow her to be the breadwinner.  I happily and quickly traipsed through this book, despite the fact that I found the storyline to be a bit tired and predictable:  A smart immigrant girl claws her way up from abject poverty and has to choose between a bright future and love for a boy from her old world.  Also, the characters are a bit one-dimensional—Kimberly is wonderful, although she does trip up occasionally, Annette is her ever-supportive sidekick, and Aunt Paula is basically a wicked witch.

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