Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls

By: Lisa See

Series: Shanghai Girls (Sisters Pearl and May), Book 1

Published: 2009

# of pages: 309

Quote: "I focus my eyes on my jade bracelet. . . it is an object that ties me to the past, to people and places that are gone forever. Its continued perfection serves as a physical reminder to keep living, to look to the future, to cherish what I have. It reminds me to endure. I'll live one morning after another, one step after another, because my will to continue is so strong." -Pearl pg. 232

Official description:

In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America. Though inseparable best friends, the sisters also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. Along the way they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.

My opinion: This is a tragic book, a lot of terrible things happen to Pearl and May. However, I still enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. I related to Pearl and her thoughts and feelings. All of the tragedies add up to an adventure that is hard for modern Americans to comprehend, but that's part of what makes it so hard to stop reading.

I was impressed with See's storytelling and the obvious research she did for the historic aspects of the novel. I like reading about this time period (WWII and the surrounding years) from another point of view. A few months ago I read Snow Falling on Cedars, a book that is written from the view point of Japanese Americans. I learned so much from that book and now even more from Shanghai Girls, which taught me about how the war and politics affected Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans.

I also liked how See brings together both Pearl's and May's opinions and ways of interpreting everything that happened to them at the end. I'm glad there's a sequel to the story because otherwise I'd be unhappy with the ending! Dreams of Joy was released in May 2011, I'm on a LONG waiting list for it at the library!

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars: Well written, realistic characters, interesting story & setting. However, very graphic - violence & sex. It may be too much for readers who are sensitive about these subjects or who have been sexually abused.

Other reviews:
Royal Reviews

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