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In retrospect, my review is fairly prophetic. I'm so glad there's more to the s I'm re-rating this book up to 4 stars, but with the contingency that it must be read with Dreams of Joy. I'm so glad there's more to the story. She certainly did this in Shanghai Girls - this time with sisters who grew up in modern pre-WWII Shanghai, and who because of the war are forced to make huge changes in their lives for which they are entirely unprepared. We read this story through the eyes of Pearl, the older, smarter, less attractive sister, and how she goes through her days protecting her sister, and trying to harness the sibling rivalry that always exists between them.
The tension slowly grows and grows throughout the book, until the end, where if you know Lisa See books, then you know what's coming. The reason that I gave this book three stars is because I felt that after the explosion of emotions, there was no resolution. It was too abrupt of an ending, and I felt like the characters were lost to me before it was time for them to go. I understand why Lisa ended the book where she did chronologically it would have required some serious additional writing, and I bet the publishers wouldn't have allowed an pg book but I wish that they had.
Where is my coda? I will read it again, and enjoy it from the perspective of one who knows what's coming, but I can't say that it's my favorite Lisa See novel. View all 25 comments. Feb 23, Larry rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: But despite its rich background, Shanghai Girls is ultimately the story of two sisters — Pearl and May — who desperately strive to help each other survive and at the same time replay in their minds and actions old rivalries, jealousies, and hurts.
Pearl, speaking in first person, is the narrator, taking us from to The perspectives are different, however. In the memoir See is scrupulously objective in treatment family members, herself, and issues very close to her.
Pearl lets us experience some of the same American experiences but from a different perspective and from the inside. Late in the novel, Pearl reflects: Being a Dragon, Pearl is seen by her parents as a fiery, strong daughter who can take care of her self-absorbed Sheep sister. By the time she is 21, Pearl and May enjoy the status of being Beautiful Girls, Pearl rather insensitive to those who serve her and her wealthy family. Her father loses his money in gambling debts and the sisters are forced into arranged marriages.
The Japanese attack China and Shanghai is attacked by air and the country invaded. In the process Pearl and her mother are brutalized by Japanese soldiers and her mother is killed. Having lost everything, Pearl and May are forced to flee to America to find their husbands. Surviving a grueling stay at Angel Island the Ellis Island of the West , Pearl can only hope that her husband Sam and his family will accept her since she is bringing with her a new born daughter named Joy.
Although her father-in-law gradually comes to include Pearl, May, and Joy as true members of his family, Pearl grows closer to her mother-in-law, and discovers that her lower class husband is indeed an Ox in the truest sense, deeply loving and caring for his family, her new Christian and much older Chinese values are tested by the terrors of the McCarthy era of anti-communism accompanied by serious mistreatment of most Chinese people.
At the end of the novel the two sisters directly confront each other at last, venting all the anger and hurt each has repressed previously. But finally it is Joy who saves Pearl. View all 3 comments. These girls dad sucks! This reminds me of one of her other books with the father! I can't put my finger on what I didn't love about this book, I guess it just seemed to drag a little bit for me.
From the beginning of the book in Shanghai, through their journey out of China, to their stay on Angel Island, and finally their life in Southern California, I was captivated by Pearl and her sister May. Hardcover , pages. See puts you through a lot with her characters in Shanghai Girls -- even after the worst of their hardships are over, they can't seem to catch a break. Father Louie Vern and Sam's father might suspect she is pregnant by someone else, so both she and Pearl pretend that Pearl was the one pregnant all along. Up until then they always thought that unlike their parents, they would be able to marry for love and choose their partner themselves. I would like to have read this story a good one written by a different author.
I have to admit that I almost threw the book when I got to t 3. I have to admit that I almost threw the book when I got to the rape part of the book. I skimmed as much as I could because I don't read that kind of stuff. Not word for word at any rate. Pearl and May were having a good life being models until one day their father said he gambled all of his money away including the girls money he was keeping for them and that he sold them to the man he owed, Old Man Louie.
They were to marry his sons, Sam and Vern. I slip down next to May. I can't believe Mama is willing to ship us to America to cure my father's and her problems. But then isn't that the kind of thing Chinese parents have done with worthless daughters for thousands of years--abandoned them, sold them, used them?
Pearl and May decided not to go but then some goons were sent after them during the midst of a war going on with the Japanese. Pearl and May promised they would go and they had a really hard time getting their tickets changed. Lets just say that didn't work out. One night their father didn't return home so their mother hired a boy to take them as far as he could. Pearl, May and their mom ended up in who knows where and they were attacked. Their mom told them to stay hidden in a room but Pearl came out when she realized their mom was being raped and beaten repeatedly by the Japanese.
They even unbound her feet her feet were done in the old tradition and stomped on them too. I couldn't really read through much of this, Pearl was raped repeatedly as well. When they were gone their mom dragged herself over to Pearl and held her and talked to her until Pearl passed out and her mom died. Later, May came out and got a wheelbarrow and carried Pearl a great distance and got them on a boat. She got Pearl to a hospital where they had to do several surgeries on Pearl and said she would never have kids.
I just have one thing to say about any kind of rapist. They had to stay where they were for some time until May had her baby. Yes, she did the deed with someone and they passed it off as Pearl's baby. Pearl named her Joy. So the book goes on to tell of their lives in America. There are so many revelations and a lot of sadness. I felt so bad for these people. So many that were involved in such atrocities. I have the sequel and it's about Joy. I'm hoping something wonderful happens with Joy in that book after all of the stuff she found out at the end of this book.
Something good has to come out of it all. Melissa Martin's Reading List Aug 02, Elyse rated it it was amazing. I can't believe I didn't write a review on this Lisa See book. This is one of my favorite historical books she wrote. There is a fascinating story in here that many people know very little about! After I had read this not light and fluffy , a front page article in our local I can't believe I didn't write a review on this Lisa See book.
After I had read this not light and fluffy , a front page article in our local newspaper was a true story about an Asian man - he was in his 90's living in SF Even though this booksI fiction -there is a lot to learn about how it really was for Chinese immigrants -- during the mid 50's and it's not a pretty picture. We should have been deeply ashamed of ourselves. View all 8 comments. Aug 08, Linda Smith rated it it was ok. This book was very disappointing. I went into it eager to learn about this point in history and this should have been a good book considering the premise of the story.
I think it started out well and the family and events in China held my interest and seemed well-defined. Still, the tragedies never felt that compelling, and even what should have outraged me when they arrived in the US, never had the impact they would have if better written. I should have gotten angry, I should have cried, I shou This book was very disappointing. I should have gotten angry, I should have cried, I should have felt more for the characters. The book evolved into a long narrative that just seemed to state dates and facts without any depth and then finally reveals what was the obvious plot point all along.
Did we ever know the Uncles? NO, only as Pearl and May see them, not a real people. I would like to have read this story a good one written by a different author. And I agree with the other reviewer who stated that the abrupt ending seems to just be setting up a sequel. Think I'll pass on that if it does happen. View all 11 comments.
Jun 14, J. Elle rated it it was ok. This was the third book I've read by this author and I'm still confused as to my feelings for her writing. I think it was all the descriptions and information about the cultural nuances, including foot binding. Then, I was excited to read, Peony in Love , until I actually started it. Then, I thought maybe this book would turn the tide either way. Unfortunately, I'm still ambivalent. It was an interesting enough story: Plus, and please forgive me if you adore history, reading about war bores me. Thank you to everyone who has served or is serving our country.
We would not have the freedoms we have now were it not for people giving their life, but reading a fictional account of any war is not something I normally enjoy. I guess I will wait until this author writes something else and decide then if I'm interested enough to read it.
Jul 30, Helen Dunn rated it did not like it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really disliked this book and I'm extra disappoined about it because I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan so much! It starts out OK with the depiction of Shanghai but never did anything to make me feel a connection to the characters. Pearl is just pure, unadulterated grouch, and May is a completly selfish jerk or is she? Most of the book is just a boring list of things that happened.
We worked at China City. We spoke Sze Yup. Sam had iron fan. We did the husband-wife thing what a super annoying term! What was the deal with Vern anyway? Was he retarded, autistic, Down's Syndrome, just sickly, what?? He had no purpose at all except for the stupid model boats at the end. I can't believe that there is a sequel because I can't imagine that people want to spend more time with these cardboard people. Lynne, Donna, Cam, Leslye, Mary. As such, I was really looking forward to reading Shanghai Girls when it came out.
Initially though, people began saying that it did not compare. So it was with trepidation that I began reading this book, afraid that I would be disappointed. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America I fell in love with Lisa See's writing a few years ago when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America around the time of the cultural revolution in China.
From the beginning of the book in Shanghai, through their journey out of China, to their stay on Angel Island, and finally their life in Southern California, I was captivated by Pearl and her sister May.
Two sisters could not be more different, but more attached than the two women in this book. As usual, See has imbued this story with a wonderful cast of characters who surround the sisters and help tell the story of the bewilderment of the Chinese population after the invasion by Japan, the assimilation of the Chinese into American society in the s and 50s, and finally, the mistrust, prejudice, and panic in the US towards Chinese Americans after the rise to power in China of Mao Tse Tung.
See is such a gifted storyteller, that you feel like you know the characters personally and the pages just fly by. My only complaint was that the end of the story left so many loose ends. In a way it was fitting, but at the same time there were many questions left unanswered. I was, therefore, very excited to hear that Lisa See is planning to continue the story of Pearl, May, and Joy in another book. View all 15 comments. I really enjoyed this peek into Chinese culture and history. For Ed's peace of mind, there are a few instances of tragedy porn a la Kite Runner, but I found this book rather more enjoyable.
It covers Pearl and May's lives growing up in Shanghai, where they don't have to worry about much until their father basically sells them as wives for another man's sons in order to pay off his gambling debts. Amid this, the second Sino-Japanese War is going on, and it takes everything they have in order to g I really enjoyed this peek into Chinese culture and history.
Amid this, the second Sino-Japanese War is going on, and it takes everything they have in order to get out of Shanghai. En route to America, the girls are detained at the Angel Island immigration facility and then when WWII hits they have to face the racism and discrimination against all Asian races because Westerners mistake them for being Japanese. Pearl raises a daughter and is torn between bringing her up in the traditional Chinese way or the more modern American style.
Along the way, she and May share a tight and sometimes strained bond as they share life-altering experiences. Being sisters married to a pair of brothers, they all live in the same house and family on top of family isn't always the best situation. Lisa See researched this excellently, and I learned so much; from Chinese culture in general to the issues immigrants had to deal with it really parallels the problems Mexicans and Latinos are facing in America right now , and then tying it in with several big historical events.
The end was left wide open for the sequel, Dreams of Joy , which I'm now dying for. View all 9 comments. Aug 11, Janice rated it did not like it. I'm going to have to admit that I stayed up 'til all hours of the night to read this book. But, that being said, I also have to say that in my opinion it's not a very good book at all. The plot is rollicking the main characters, formerly wealthy girls in Shanghai, must escape both gangsters and the Japanese; then they go to California to join the men they've wed, first coping with a grueling and prolonged interrogation process on Angel Island; get involved in the movie business and the tourist I'm going to have to admit that I stayed up 'til all hours of the night to read this book.
The plot is rollicking the main characters, formerly wealthy girls in Shanghai, must escape both gangsters and the Japanese; then they go to California to join the men they've wed, first coping with a grueling and prolonged interrogation process on Angel Island; get involved in the movie business and the tourist trade in L.
You might say that Amy Tan puts her characters through as much drama, but somehow I find Tan convincing where See is altogether not. As I was reading, I tried to put my finger on what was wrong. For one thing, See's writing just isn't strong enough to convince me of the truth of her characters' psychology.
One particularly exasperating sentence appears on p. Which brings me to my second and related point: I just can't see any Chinese woman speaking as openly as Pearl does. Her voice just doesn't feel Chinese to me, or at least not the way the voice of someone of her generation should feel, in my opinion. He's been anxious lately, but tonight his mood is darker than usual. Perhaps his favorite horse didn't win or the dice refused to land his way. This is another of my father's standard criticisms and one he picked up from Confucius, who wrote, "An educated woman is a worthless woman.
But as smart as I am, I don't know how to protect myself from my father's words. Most families eat at a round dining table, so they will always be whole and connected, with no sharp edges. We have a square teakwood table, and we always sit in the exact same places: Every meal — day after day, year after year — is a reminder that I'm not the favorite and never will be.
As my father continues to pick at my faults, I shut him out and pretend an interest in our dining room. On the wall adjoining the kitchen, four scrolls depicting the four seasons usually hang. Tonight they've been removed, leaving shadow outlines on the wall. They aren't the only things missing. We used to have an overhead fan, but this past year Baba thought it would be more luxurious to have servants fan us while we ate. They aren't here tonight and the room is sweltering. Ordinarily an art deco chandelier and matching wall sconces of etched yellow-and-rose-tinted glass illuminate the room.
These are missing as well. I don't give any of this much thought, assuming that the scrolls have been put away to prevent their silken edges from curling in the humidity, that Baba has given the servants a night off to celebrate a wedding or birthday with their own families, and that the lighting fixtures have been temporarily taken down for cleaning. Cook — who has no wife and children of his own — removes our soup bowls and brings out dishes of shrimp with water chestnuts, pork stewed in soy sauce with dried vegetables and bamboo shoots, steamed eel, an eight-treasures vegetable dish, and rice, but the heat swallows my hunger.
I would prefer a few sips of chilled sour plum juice, cold mint-flavored sweet green bean soup, or sweet almond broth. When Mama says, "The basket repairer charged too much today," I relax. If my father is predictable in his criticisms of me, then it's equally predictable that my mother will recite her daily woes. She looks elegant, as always. Amber pins hold the bun at the back of her neck perfectly in place. Her gown, a cheongsam made of midnight blue silk with midlength sleeves, has been expertly tailored to fit her age and status.
A bracelet carved from a single piece of good jade hangs from her wrist.
Shanghai Girls has ratings and reviews. Eileen said: I'm re-rating this book up to 4 stars, but with the contingency that it must be read w. Shanghai Girls is a novel by Lisa See. It centers on the complex relationship between two sisters, Pearl and May, as they go through great pain and.
The thump of it when it hits the table edge is comforting and familiar. She has bound feet, and some of her ways are just as antiquated. She questions our dreams, weighing the meaning of the presence of water, shoes, or teeth as good or bad omens. She believes in astrology, blaming or praising May and me for one thing or another because we were born in the Year of the Sheep and the Year of the Dragon, respectively.
Mama has a lucky life. Her arranged marriage to our father seems relatively peaceful.
She reads Buddhist sutras in the morning, takes a rickshaw to visit friends for lunch, plays mah-jongg until late in the day, and commiserates with wives of similar station about the weather, the indolence of servants, and the ineffectiveness of the latest remedies for their hiccups, gout, or hemorrhoids. She has nothing to fret about, but her quiet bitterness and persistent worry infuse every story she tells us. Still, she's beautiful, and her lily gait is as delicate as the swaying of young bamboo in a spring breeze.
We don't contradict her, but the odor suffocating us comes not from spilled nightsoil or day-old shrimp but from her.