Jan 8, 2010

Review of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

From Goodreads:

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.


Shanghai Girls is a rich tale of sisters who escape from Shanghai when war breaks out between china and Japan. The story is of their lives in shanghai, and in the United States after migrating.

I really enjoyed this book. The cultural aspect of Shanghai Girls was very interesting. It was engrossing to read about Chinese customs. Their superstitious ways as a culture is very familiar to my culture(Hispanic). I could relate to Pearl and May rolling their eyes at the old thinking, and wise tales from the older generation.

Shanghai Girls was a heartbreaking, courageous story of the journey Pearl and May take. I love the interaction between them, and the sacrifices they both make, mostly Pearl . Her strength was inspiring to read about. Many immigrants coming into the United States endured hardships that are beyond our imaginations, with my generation having it easy, it’s easy to take everything for granted. Shanghai Girls really made me stop to think about how it must have been for people coming into the U.S, all searching for better lives, some not even knowing the language.

The characters were so put together. I easily liked Pearl, but May on the other hand was sometimes hard to like. May’s manipulative ways was just sometimes to much for me read about. Pearl in one hand seemed like a pushover, but then I could understand she was playing the role she was given by her parents, which was to make May happy at all cost. I would catch glimpses of a May that seemed independent, mature, and full of life, but quickly that would turn into whining, and annoying. She was definitely hard to like at times. The family they are married into in America was surprising to me. Surprising, how? I don’t want to spoil.

I’m so glad I picked this up as my first read in the new year. I feel like I started my reading year great. I closed the book completely satisfied, and that’s the best feeling.

Rating: 5/5

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm glad you liked this! It was my favorite book last year!


Thanks for commenting!