Books to Watch for This May - Reviews and Reading Guides
Finding a book you love can be a bittersweet experience: How can your next choice ever compare to what you just finished? We revisit the page-turners of the past and recommend titles we're betting will become the stars of the future.
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the May 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
By the Brothers Grimm
224 pages; HarperCollins
While we're supposed to know better than to fall for Cinderella stories about poor girls who make good, triumph over their evil relatives, and get the guy, sometimes—face it—we just can't help ourselves.
Now: Girl in Translation
By Jean Kwok
304 pages; Riverhead
Part fairy tale, part autobiography, Jean Kwok's novel Girl in Translation introduces Kimberly Chang, an 11-year-old Chinese girl who has emigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn with her single mother. While the Changs live in squalor in an unheated, cockroach-infested apartment and work in a sweatshop owned by an undermining aunt who pretends to be their protector, Kimberly grows into something of a prodigy. Though her English is charmingly butchered (in her first week at an American school she asks a teacher for a "rubber" when she means an "eraser") and her worldview limited (she computes how much something costs "in skirts," meaning how many garments she'll have to sew to make that amount of money), she wows her teachers, gets an unheard-of full scholarship to a prep school, lands a handsome boyfriend, and, finally, a free ride to "Yeah-loo" (i.e., Yale). A stock story? Absolutely. But what puts this debut novel toward the top of the pile is its buoyant voice and its slightly subversive ending that suggests "happily ever after" may have more to do with love of self and of family than with any old Prince Charming. — Sara Nelson
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