Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Published by Random House
Rating: 4.5 stars
Shanghai Girls begins in the late 1930s, amidst a frenzy of glamour, excitement and a vibrant nightlife where beautiful sisters, Pearl and May Chin, are leading extravagant lives. They have everything they could ever desire and they take advantage of their abundant means, until their father gambles away his fortune and must pay off his debt by turning over the girls as wives. They are forced to abandon their comfortable lives and as they take the harrowing journey towards Los Angeles to marry strangers, the girls encounter many obstacles and endure much strife. Once in Los Angeles, they must navigate the treacherous waters of their new lives and fight to stay afloat in a city that constantly discriminates and has the potential to bring out the worst in people. This book spans many years and readers have the chance to follow Pearl and May from teenaged girls into adulthood and beyond.
Since I know Lisa See is a very talented writer, I had high expectations for Shanghai Girls and thankfully I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed reading about both Chin girls and their family saga, especially about how far they travelled to get to where they ended up, in both the literal and figurative sense. Despite their flaws, these girls are passionate and driven people who had to overcome so much and I really respect them for that. From the way I'm writing about them, it's easy to tell just how real they became for me and how vivid the whole book became, which is certainly a direct reflection of Lisa See's powerful writing.
Not only is the writing itself wonderful, but the plot is really well-crafted and I'm always a fan of twists and turns in the storyline, especially when secrets are revealed later on. It's amazing that so much happens throughout its pages and yet I never felt like the story was dragging on or the book was too long.
I'm not sure if there will be a sequel to Shanghai Girls in the future but I hope so because the ending is left open for one and I'm dying to find out what happens next to the Chin women.
BIG THANKS to Random House for my review copy