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Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
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3,7062851,413 (3.81)271
  1. 20
    Girl in Translation: A Novel 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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Review: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. 02/19/2018

This was an excellent book. Well written, great plot, characters were well developed, and intriguing. The story is about two sisters, Pearl and May who grew up in pre-WWII in Shanghai where their parents sacrificed their daughters to arranged marriages. The girls were unprepared for the sudden change in their lives married to brothers, Sam age 18 and Vern age 16.

The eldest girl, Pearl (the narrator) on her wedding night sanctified her marriage but the youngest, May couldn’t go through with it. Her husband was so immature and believed to have emotional problems. The father, Louie who bought them was sending his sons to America for a better start in their marriages but the sisters stay behind until they were sent for by their husbands. They were also told that they would have a better life, beautiful things, servants and a home of comfort and riches.

However, their journey was brutal throughout their arrival in America. They had to go through customs and than place in an immigration place called, Angel Island. The sisters were there for months and struggled to survive the rules and condition of the place and one sister was pregnant unprepared to deliver a baby in the showers. When they were finally released with the baby girl who they named Joy they had no choice but to find their husbands in San Francisco, Chinatown only to be disappointed and not wanted by the people and were treated cruelly.

I felt sadness for Pearl because all the things she had to endure in her young life. Even though the sisters were inseparable Pearl desperately holds back contempt for the actions, rivalries, jealousy and painful memories of protecting her younger sister in giving her a better life. Near the end Pearl and May finally have an irate argument and their love for each other didn’t stop either one from driving the knife in deeply and hurting each other with unforgettable painful words… ( )
  Juan-banjo | Feb 26, 2018 |
Awesome book! I really learned a lot from this book. Definitely a page turner for me. ( )
  anacskie | Dec 22, 2017 |
Awesome book! I really learned a lot from this book. Definitely a page turner for me. ( )
  anacskie | Dec 22, 2017 |
This is not an enjoyable read but it is satisfying. It is pretty brutal at times describing the life of 2 women (sisters) from 1937 to 1957. They start as fashionable girls in Shanghai with a good life complete with servants, but WWII and the invasion of the Japanese along with the bankruptcy of their father wrecks that life. They flee china by their wits through Hong Kong to be with husbands of arranged marriages (done by their father to to try to solve his debt problems). Arriving in the USA is a mixed blessing as they have to survive in a country that really does not want them.

The book ends with a cliff hanger and I see there is another novel to complete the story.... I will definitely read this book if I can find it. The writing style is excellent. ( )
1 vote Lynxear | Nov 26, 2017 |
It looks like the baton has passed from Amy Tan to Lisa See when it comes to writing about women from China and their complicated relationships with mothers and sisters. As a daughter, mother, and sister, I recognize the universality of the intense feelings, nearly unbreakable bonds, and unique ability to wound and support in these relationships. Although familiar, I like to read about the special ways that other cultures express these relationships. Ms. See thoroughly grounds her story in the urban Chinese culture of pre-WWII Shanghai and the immigrant experience of Los Angeles. She shapes her characters with war, tragedies, and the discrimination unique to those populations.

I felt the story sagged a bit in the later section when See was jumping over many years to get to the climax and jumping off point for her next book, but I still found this to be a satisfying read. ( )
  MarysGirl | Nov 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 285 (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.

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