Sunday, May 23, 2010
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
A riveting historical novel set in Shanghai in 1937. Enter two beautiful sisters, Pearl and May, who are calender girls enjoying their freedom in the Paris of Asia. Abruptly and unbeknownst to Pearl and May their father arranges marriages for them to pay off his debts. Their new husbands are Chinese but live in California. Pearl and May must immigrate to the United States. What ensues in a honest look at the struggle of Chinese immigrants in the U.S.A.
The United States Government and its citizens were very discriminatory of the Chinese. The Chinese Exclusion Act limited the Chinese from immigrating to the U.S. and also was meant to severely limit how many people of Chinese descent could become citizens of the U.S. As a result of this Act, many Chinese people could not find jobs and housing was restricted to certain areas. Families were jammed into small housing apartments and lived quite poorly and yet were rich by the standards in China.
Shanghai Girls is as entertaining as it is informative. The storyline simultaneously conveys the history and culture of the Chinese in China and in the United States. I loved how the story went back and forth between countries, it really teaches the reader empathy and compassion as well as shows the fear and discrimination of the times.
I highly recommend this book. If you have a sister buy her a copy and read it together. This book celebrates sisterhood. You will love it! Thanks Random House for sending it to me.
On a side note: I have one ARC (advanced reading copy) to give away. This is not a contest. If you are interested in reading this book, e-mail your name & address. The first person to send me their address via e-mail receives my ARC. You must be a follower of my blog.