Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Author Description: 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.
Amazon Review: Lisa See explores tradition, the ravages of war and the importance of family in her excellent latest. See’s skillful plotting and richly drawn characters immediately draw in the reader, covering 20 years of love, loss, heartbreak and joy while delivering a sobering history lesson. While the ending is ambiguous, this is an accomplished and absorbing novel. (Publishers Weekly)
My Review: Although my bookies (babes of outstanding kharacter in every sense) agreed that the ending was without closure, this book proved to be worth the upset. Amidst the entrancing history lesson provided through the characters, I was also captured by their dedication and willingness to keep their culture such a large part of their daily lives. And, of course, with a sister as a best friend (love you, Melissa), I loved the dynamic between the two girls and how their relationship not only went through its ups and downs, but that is what kept them strongly connected in the end. Family is an extraordinary being, but cannot be outdone by the fierceness of a mother to protect and provide for her children. I loved the mothers in this story, both in China, California, and then when the sisters took on that role in different ways. Overall, an excellent read and worth the long details that I didn’t remember from history class and an unexpected and frustrating ending. May and Pearl are the quintessential definition of sisters that any girl would be extremely lucky to come across in their lifetime.
Next up… A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
**I was not asked to, or compensated for, writing this book review.