May 13, 2009

Review of: Shanghai Girls

Author: Lisa See
ISBN: 9781400067114
Pages: 315
Published by: Random House (May 26, 2009)
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction
Grade: A
Challenge(s): 100+ Reading Challenge - Read 'n Review '09 - Spring Reading Thing 2009 - World Citizen Challenge - 2009 Pub Challenge

Pearl and May Chin grew up in Shanghai, China in the 1920s and '30s. When they are 21 and 19, respectively, they are 'sold' into arranged marriages with a pair of brother, to pay off their father's gambling debts. Pearl is already in love with an artist called ZG. May and Pearl are models, their faces sell everything from baby formula to tobacco. In the process of leaving China for America, after the bombing of Shanghai, many terrible tings happen to and around this pair of sisters.

I learned quite a bit reading Shanghai Girls. I'm not sure what it says about our education system that I'd never heard about Angel Island before. More tid-bits I found interesting:
  • In Chinese culture, white is the funeral color, the death color. (Imagine what it was like for immigrants from China that went to a hospital or to see a doctor!)
  • There were segments at least that were prejudiced toward the Japanese; calling them things like "monkey people" and "dwarf bandits".
I really found myself pulled in by Lisa See's words. I felt like I was right there with the sisters through their many struggles, fights, joys. I haven't read any of Lisa See's previous novels, but I am looking forward to reading more than Shanghai Girls.
From GoodReads: May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)—where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months—they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.

(Full disclosure: I won this ARC of Shanghai Girls in a drawing on Random House's website. If you have any questions/concerns about how this may have affected how I feel about the book, please go here and read the last paragraph.)

Buy Shanghai Girls by Lisa See:
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1 comment:

  1. I really was taken in by SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, but haven't read either of See's other two novels (PEONY IN LOVE or SHANGHAI GIRLS). I have this one on my list ...


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