Review

Review: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

“Your sister is the one person who should stick by you and love you no matter what, but she’s also the one person who knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt you the most.” – Lisa See

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: 2009

Rate: 4⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis

Pearl and May are sisters, living carefree lives in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. But when Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, they 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 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.

My Take

I have had a lot of type delete moments while writing this review, I struggled a lot with how to describe how wonderful and powerful this book is. Original I had given the book 3.5 stars but the more I thought on it and reflected, it definitely deserves 4 stars. Why, you may ask. Well:

  • Shanghai Girls starts, or rather is set up in 1937 Shanghai and it highlights the life of Chinese immigrants at the time.
  • The book is honest, raw and open. The descriptions are vivid, the plot is engaging and the characters are real and visible.
  • What would you do to save a loved one? Let me tell, a mother’s love, a sister’s love is unmatched in this book. I’ll be honest I was frustrated with Pearl half the time but in the end I had to accept that that’s the way she is.
  • Shanghai Girls is a historical fiction book and it details key events that happened in the real world and if you’re a lover of history, this is a treat!
  • Lisa See is a phenomenal writer and the way she tells Pearl and May’s story, it’s something you want to experience.

“I learn that mystery, confusion & exaggeration can build your reputation.”

These are my 5 reasons why I loved, and why you should pick up Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.

Have you read this book? If yes, what did you think about it? If no, will you pick it up?

Tell me down in the comments!

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