Title: Shanghai Girls
Author: Lisa See
Genre: Historical Fiction
Date Finished: 23 June 2009
My Rating: 4 Stars
Challenges: 100+, Library, New Author, Pub
Shanghai Girls tells the story of two sisters, Pearl and May, living in the Shanghai of the 1930s, the Paris of Asia. The sisters live a modern and carefree life as models until a series of events begin to unfold that will transform their lives. After being sold as wives to two young Chinese Americans, Pearl and May are forced to leave their beloved Shanghai for America.
The novel, which is told from Pearl's perspective, chronicles the close but sometimes volatile relationship between the sisters as well as their struggles to escape worn torn China, the struggles they face in America at the Angel Island detention center and their new lives with a new family in America.
I found both Pearl and May to be fascinating characters who each in their own way adapted to the upheavals in their lives, even if they did not understand each others choices and motivations leading to more tension and misunderstanding.
Shanghai Girls is a very intriguing historical fiction novel that that gives the reader a look at life and culture in pre-WWII China and the life and culture of Chinese people living in the United States in the 1940s and 50s.
I loved the lead up to the end, very tense and climatic but I am just not sure how I feel about the actual ending...
There were a number of traumatic events that Pearl and May experienced, which while not necessarily graphic in nature, were not easy for me to read. I never thought of myself as overly sensitive but there were times I had to set the book aside and take a break from reading. Reading accounts like this one, based on actual events, just leaves me feeling a little depressed about the horrid ways people can treat others.