by Lisa See
*** About the Book ***
Shanghai in the 1930s was known as the "Paris of Asia"; sisters Pearl and May are living in the heart of it and enjoying every minute. They consider themselves thoroughly modern girls - with their French fashions, short hair, and modeling jobs - despite the fact that their father is new to his wealth and their mother has bound feet. Modernity is wretched from their grasps however, when their father arranges marriages for the sisters in order to get himself out of debt to the local crime lord. Pearl and May are forced to marry two brothers who are emigrating to San Fransisco, and as wives they are, of course, expected to emigrate as well. But before they can board a ship to join their husbands in America the Japanese attack China and the world is plunged into chaos. Will Pearl and May escape the Japanese invasion? How will they get to San Fransisco? And when they get there will they find the life of privilege they were promised?
*** Why I Read It ***
I've been hearing for quite a while what a wonderful writer Lisa See is but I'd never read any of her books. When SHANGHAI GIRLS went on a blog tour with TLC Books I figured I'd give it a shot and see what all the fuss was about.
*** My Thoughts ***
This is a really good book! I'll have to agree with the crowd - Lisa See can write a heck of a good story. I read this over 2 days while I was down with strep throat (yuck); I was so invested in the story that I didn't want to put it down.
There are a lot of things I enjoyed about this book so I think a list will work best here.
- Sisters - The relationship between Pearl and May is one that anyone with a sister can relate to. It is THE biggest strength of the book. Their tremendous love and concern for each other, wrapped around jealousy and misunderstanding, all tied with more strings of attachment than you can count ... all I can say is WOW ... how true it is. (In case my sister is reading this, love you 'Cole!)
- Characters - The main characters in this story are fully developed and dynamic. The secondary characters are not as developed but they are not flat either. I loved watching how the characters' relationships changed over time as their perspectives on each other - and on life in general - changed.
- History in China - I know very little about Chinese history in any era so I really enjoyed the history lessons I got from this book. The descriptions of life in Shanghai during this time period were complete revelations to me - I had no idea about any of this stuff.
- History in the US - Because I'm an East Coast gal I'm naturally more familiar with the history that happened on my side of the US. I know a bit about San Fransisco, Angel Island, and Chinatown, but only just a little (ask me about Ellis Island and I can give you quite a history!). This book was truly an education for me, and I loved learning as I read.
*** Your Thoughts ***
Are you already a Lisa See fan? If so, which of her books is your favorite? If not, is she one of those authors you've been meaning to try out? Does SHANGHAI GIRLS appeal to you?
Here are a few others reviews you might want to check out:
*** Giveaway ***
Thanks to the publisher I have a copy of this book for one lucky blog reader in the US or Canada. Here's how to enter:
- Leave a comment telling me why this book appeals to you.
- Be sure to leave your email address or have it easily accessible through your profile.
- You must have a US or Canadian mailing address to win (sorry, this is the publisher's requirement).
- If you win you must reply to my email notification within 24 hours or I will choose another winner.
- The winner will be drawn on Friday morning (01/29/10) so enter now!