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Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
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3,5862821,471 (3.81)267
  1. 20
    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (terran)
    terran: Chinese Americans, Mother and daughters, Family, Poverty, Immigrants
  2. 03
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (tahcastle)
    tahcastle: Both novels illustrated the discrimination in the United States, of Japanese during the war and of the Chinese after the war.

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Shanghai Girls was very interesting because it takes a place in a historical time period and place that is completely outside my wheelhouse. See's research is evident, as she is very good at evoking an image of the past--whether is is Shanghai or L.A. But the characters--their personalities and relationships--seem a little superficial compared to the depth of the scene that See has created. Something felt hasty in the book--even though the sisters spent a lot of time in China, or Angel Island, it feels like they just keeping jumping from place to place. I wish it was longer. ( )
  renardkitsune | Jul 9, 2017 |
A real disappointment. I was halfway through when I realized this book was a prequel to one of my recent favorite books -- Dreams of Joy. Lisa See is an engaging writer, but skip "Shanghai" and go right to "Dreams of Joy." ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
Beautiful girls — sold to paper husband U.S. life Shanghai (Paris of Asia) Japs invade to US — suffer there again — ___ ___ — Chairman Mao

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.
  christinejoseph | Jun 20, 2017 |
See manages to paint a picture in every setting that this book has - and it has many, following the story of two sisters from "the Paris of the East" to America during the Red Scare. The book is told from the first person perspective of Pearl, the eldest of the sisters, born in the year of the Dragon, whose sister is May, born in the year of the Sheep. As the sisters flee from one country to the next, the reader watches them go from carefree Beautiful Girls to scared women with more responsibility than they ever thought possible. The character development is excellent, bringing a striking contrast to the events at the end of the book. It ends on a climactic cliffhanger, which almost makes up for the snail's pace of the story throughout.

I would recommend this book for high school and older reading. Minor graphic violence and sex, no graphic language. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
This is my first Lisa See book. I listened to the audiobook version, as well some of the reviews here. I have it a four because overall I enjoyed it. I originally got it because it takes place in Los Angeles in the 30s and 40s which I find of interest. I'm not sure why many people are so negative about this book. I kept thinking about all the research Lisa See must have done for this book and well she conveyed so much information about Chinese immigration in California and in Los Angeles. I am grateful for the insight she gives that I was generally aware of but never thought about too deeply. As a Caucasian I was brought thinking that racism in the US occurred only in the south. However that is definitely not the case. Looking at the racism Chinese Americans experienced sheds light on current issues in immigration, especially regarding people from Latin America. I appreciate being able to have a better understanding of Chinese immigrants in America.

The (spoiler alert) story of Pearl and and her sister and mother leaving Shanghai is painful and I was tempted to stop listening when I came to the horrific rape scene, but it is a key part of the story and to Pearl's character.

I look forward to hear the next book to find out what happens when Pearl returns to China. ( )
  kerchie1 | Jun 9, 2017 |
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Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls” is much loftier than its cover art’s stunning portrait of beautifully adorned Asian women. The author of “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” has written a broadly sweeping tale...
Things are getting catty again in the Shanghai literary scene!
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For my cousin Leslee Leong, my cohort in memory keeping.
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'Our daughter looks like a South China peasant with those red cheeks,' my father complains, pointedly ignoring the soup before him. 'Can't you do something about them?'
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812980530, Paperback)

Book Description
For readers of the phenomenal bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love--a stunning new novel from Lisa See about two sisters who leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles.

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.

Amazon Exclusive: Lisa See on Shanghai Girls

I’m writing this on a plane to Shanghai. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to see and do on this research trip: look deeper into the Art Deco movement in Shanghai, visit a 17th-century house in a village of 300 people to observe the Sweeping the Graves Festival, and check out some old theaters in Beijing. But as I sit on the plane, I’m not thinking of the adventures that are ahead but of the people and places I’ve left behind. I’ve been gone from home only a few hours and already I’m homesick!

This puts me in mind of Pearl and May, the characters in Shanghai Girls. This feeling--longing for home and missing the people left behind--is at the heart of the novel. We live in a nation of immigrants. We all have someone in our families who was brave enough, scared enough, or crazy enough to leave the home country to come to America. I’m a real mutt in terms of ancestry, but I know that the Chinese side of my family left China because they were fleeing war, famine, and poverty. They were lured to America in hopes of a better life, but leaving China also meant saying goodbye to the homes they’d been born in, to their parents, brothers, and sisters, and to everything and everyone they knew. This experience is the blood and tears of American experience.

Pearl and May are lucky, because they come to America together. They’re sisters and they have each other. I’ve always wanted to write about sisters and I finally got my chance with Shanghai Girls. You could say that either I’m an only child or that I’m one of four sisters, because I have a former step-sister I’ve known for over 50 years and two half-sisters from different halves who I’ve known since they were born. Is Shanghai Girls autobiographical? Not really, but my sister Katharine and I once had a fight that was like the flour fight that May and Pearl got into when they were girls. And there was an ice cream incident that I used in the novel that sent my sister Clara right down memory lane when she read the manuscript. I’m also the eldest, and we all know what that means. I’m the one who’s supposed to be the bossy know-it-all. (But if that’s true, then why are they the ones who are always right?) What I know is that we’re very different from each other and our life experiences couldn’t be more varied, and yet we have a deep emotional connection that goes way beyond friendship. My sisters knew me when I was a shy little kid, helped me survive my first broken heart, share the memories of bad family car trips, and were at my side for the happiest moments in my life. More recently, we’ve begun to share things like the loss of our childhood homes, the changing of the neighborhoods we grew up in, and the frailties and illnesses of our myriad parents.

My emotions and experiences are deeply entwined with the stories I write. So as I fly over the Pacific, of course I’m thinking about May and Pearl, the people and places they left behind, the hopes and dreams that kept them moving forward, and the strength and solace they found in each other, but I’m thinking about myself too. As soon as I get to the hotel, I’m going to call my husband and sons to tell them I arrived safely, and then I’m going to send some e-mails to my sisters.--Lisa See

(Photo © Patricia Williams)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Forced to leave Shanghai when their father sells them to California suitors, sisters May and Pearl struggle to adapt to life in 1930s Los Angeles while still bound to old customs, as they face discrimination and confront a life-altering secret.

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