I was deeply affected by Lisa See's Shanghai Girls. The story is indeed, as Amy Tan puts it, "achingly beautiful."
For the most part, Shanghai girls is a fast-moving and riveting story. There are many intense moments, such as the pandemonium from an air raid on Shanghai where See paints a vividly macabre and gory picture of dismembered bodies and body parts in the aftermath of the bombing. My attention, however, did wane through some parts of the book. I found these parts either uninteresting or inconsequential to the plot. In addition, although the story offers a few surprising twists, some parts of the story are rather predictable. Nevertheless, See comes through with a plot that progressively thickens towards the last third of the book.
The level of character development is astounding. This alone far outweighs any faults I am able to find with this book. Shanghai Girls is a true testament to Lisa See's own words: "My emotions and experiences are deeply entwined with the stories I write." I particularly enjoyed the depth with which See has fleshed out the character Pearl, who is the narrator in the book.
The moving story in Shanghai Girls along with See's masterful writing makes this book a very worthwhile read. Definitely recommended.
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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