Jean Kwok was born around 1968 in Hong Kong, China. She is the youngest of seven children. Jean Kwok was a dreamy, impractical child who ran wild through the streets of Hong Kong. Kwok’s family immigrated to the United States when she was five. Everyone in the family worked in a clothing factory in New York's Chinatown and they lived in an unheated apartment infested with roaches. Kwok worked in a factory every day after school between the ages of five and eleven.
She started writing when she was seven. Her brother presented her a diary instead of a toy or a Barbie doll, laid this book on her pillow and said, whatever she writes in this diary, that belongs to her.