Thursday, March 16, 2017

What I'm Reading Lately

I'm not one of those people who keeps a list of books I've read. This means that sometimes, I pick up a book, only to discover that I'd already started to read it and stopped. I enjoy doing these posts because it lets me remember what books I read - and why I liked them.

All of these books have an unintentional theme. They all hit on weighty topics. It's a lot to chew on, but everything is more easily digested because it's fiction.  Happy reading!

Girl in Translation by [Kwok, Jean]

This book had some serious staying power. An eleven-year-old girl and her mom immigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn with the help of relatives. By day, the girl is an excellent student, excelling in most subjects (except English, which she works hard to learn), but, by night, she works at her aunt and uncle's sweat shop along with her mother, often staying late into the night. It reads more memoir than novel and that, I discovered, is because Harvard grad Jean Kwok herself immigrated from Hong Kong and worked in a sweatshop. It's a compelling look into a "double life" and it offers a lot of insight into Chinese culture. I still can't shake the part about the deaf little boy. Read it. You won't be able to either. 

This is a children's book, but the story is meant for everyone. Like Kwok's book, it's inspired by a true story and it similarly explores a dark part of life - and finds light. It's set in Missouri in the 1840s. James, the boy in the story, is a freed black. He and his sister attend school in a church basement, but then in 1847 a law passes making schooling illegal for blacks, slaved or free. 

The reverend who taught the school finds a new way to making schooling possible, by teaching the kids out on the steamboat where they aren't bound by Missouri law. This is an important read about history, perseverance and unconventional thinking. 

The Opposite of Everyone: A Novel by [Jackson, Joshilyn]

This was the lightest of the novels I read, but it still hit on some heavy topics, like foster care and children born in the prison system. Jackson was a new-to-me author, but I'll be reading more. She has these turns of phrase that are powerful and lovely. The two-cent summary of the book is: driven divorce lawyer explores how she became a person intent on dissolving families all while finding a family of her own.  

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy


  1. Girl in Translation looks intriguing. Maybe I'll have to pick it up. Thanks for your reviews!

    1. I hope you like it! (I just finished her other book, Mambo in Chinatown, and it was great, too.)

  2. I am so interested in Girl In Translation! I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet for the second time recently and have been wanting to read more about Asian-Americans!