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Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
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3,3212701,637 (3.8)256
  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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Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
The only reason I didn't rate this 5 stars is because it ended in a cliffhanger. I may come back and change my rating after I read the sequel and find out "what the H" (as May would say) happens!

There were times when the plot moved too slow, but overall I loved this book. I can't wait to read Dreams of Joy. ( )
  twileteyes | Feb 4, 2016 |
This story of Chinese sisters who begin their lives in a privileged existence in Shanghai only to immigrant to the United States in the midst of the Japanese invasion of China and to endure the subsequent suspicion of their origins can be a gripping tale at times. Other times it can drag down (especially when the sisters spend all that time at Angel Island). The end result is an impressive tale, but one that I struggled to get through a few times and wasn't quite satisfied with at the conclusion. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Feb 3, 2016 |
Lisa See once again mines her family history and heritage to craft a compelling story of sisterhood, sibling rivalry, courage, fear, family loyalty and the immigrant experience. Sounds like a lot to cover in one book, and it is. But See is mostly up to the task.

Pearl and May are the two Chin sisters, living in comparative wealth in 1937 Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. They are attractive and dress very well, and have good “careers” as “Beautiful Girls” – modeling for advertising posters selling everything from tires to face cream. But their idyllic world is about to collapse. Their father has arranged marriages for them to two brothers from Los Angeles, and very soon they will leave the China they know and love for a foreign land where they are considered dirty and unwelcome infiltrators.

The novel covers two decades of time, encompassing the Japanese invasion/occupation of China, World War II, the glory years of Hollywood studios, the emerging power of Chairman Mao, and the McCarthy Era with its Communist witch hunts. The sisters survive horrific events, and emotional turmoil that is sometimes of their own making. But their loyalty to one another is unshakable … or is it?

While I have studied some Chinese history, and was aware of some of the issues brought up in the book, the novel really shines a light on this two-decade period in both China and the United States. The story completely captivated me and I could not read fast enough to learn what would happen. Most good books have some element of conflict, and this one is no exception. See gives Pearl the job of narrating the story, and a few times I wished to hear May’s point of view; I think the sibling rivalry might have been stronger if she had given both sisters a voice. But then again, having just one narrator makes the climax all the more interesting.

The major fault I see in this book is the cliff-hanger ending. It screams “sequel coming” and that irritates me. I’m not saying I need every plot to be wrapped up night and neatly in a pretty bow, but without giving anything away, I can only say that this ending was really dissatisfying for me. I like See’s writing and I’ll read a sequel (I believe there is one), but personally I would have preferred more of an ending to this novel. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 25, 2016 |
I really enjoyed the book overall. the only thing that held me back from 5 stars is the abrupt ending. It left me diappointed. Hopefully there will be a sequel. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
I really enjoyed the book overall. the only thing that held me back from 5 stars is the abrupt ending. It left me diappointed. Hopefully there will be a sequel. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
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.

» see all 11 descriptions

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