“Shanghai Girls” by Lisa See
“Shanghai Girls” came to my book collection while I was walking down my street one fall day. There’s an apartment building not far from us, and outside it was a cardboard box full of books with a “Free” sign. Never one to turn down free books, I peeked in and was astonished to find quite an awesome little collection of books. In addition to “Shanghai Girls,” I scored two of the George R.R. Martin books, a biography of Stalin, and Russell Brand’s “My Booky-Wook.” (Free is the only amount I would ever consider paying for Brand’s book, but I figured I should give it a shot.)
Having just finished “Shanghai Girls,” I can officially say I got damn lucky the day I stumbled into this book. What a fantastic read! Author Lisa See writes about Chinatown with some frequency, per her bibliography, but this book stands alone as a gripping novel of historical fiction. The story of two beautiful and modern Chinese sisters in 1937 – Pearl and May – the story goes from China to San Francisco to Chicago as these young women are forced to give up all their silliness and freedom after their father’s gambling debts results in their marrying a pair of brothers they’ve never met. Fortunately, they stay together, but unfortunately the circumstances for the rest of their lives are marred by war, violence, and racism as much as they’re blessed with happiness and love.
It’s a beautiful tale of these women’s reality, with no fairy tale ending, lively and engrossing characters, and some absolutely brutal scenes – the kind that make you physically recoil while reading the words. This book made me want to read more by Lisa See.
Fantastic book! Read it!