Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review--SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See

This week I read a wonderful book, Lisa See’s SHANGHAI GIRLS, and wanted to share it with you. 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 he has gambled away their wealth and that 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 devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.

Lisa See
For me, this book was a more in depth and modern version of Edna Ferber’s GOOD EARTH, but involving not only China but the United States. I learned so much from this book. Although I love history, my view was slanted by my personal history. I once knew a man who had been an airplane pilot for General Chiang Kai-sheck’s forces and spent twenty-seven years as a Communist prisoner of war. I’m afraid that was as personal as that part of that war was for me. I cannot imagine the experiences Pearl and May were forced to endure. However, even more impressive is Lisa See’s telling of this story. She must have spent long hours researching and interviewing survivors of that time to make her story so believable and her characters come alive for the reader. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for any reader who loves great characters and living history. This book is available from Random House in hardback and trade paperback. The trade printing has discussions in the back and makes an excellent selection for a book club, which is how I came to read it. Learn more about Ms See at

No comments: