This was one of our Book Club selections and I really enjoyed this book as did the members of the book club. It was a very emotional and powerfully moving novel about the bonds of sisterhood and family and the trials and brutality of war.
"May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.
But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)--where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months--they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.
A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See."
I enjoyed this book and thought it was a very quick read. You wanted to keep reading to see what happened to the characters. There were some characters who were introduced and then disappeared never to be heard from again which was a bit frustrating. This may be the first book of a series (not sure) but the way the ending was done, it felt like there was so much more to tell. They embarked on an exciting turning point in the story at the end but it didn't play out and we do not know what happened to the characters. The characters are left in a state of crisis with no known resolution. If there is no sequel to come then the ending is very disappointing.
I found the story to be at times beautiful and at other times quite brutal. The world surrounding the "beautiful girls" was like a fantasy and very dreamy and lovely and then you get a good dose of reality which in the time of war would have been very brutal. The girls went through so much going from privileged "beautiful girls" to their long journey to America where they had to work very hard for their money and live in very small accommodations. I thought that the prejudices and racism was realistically portrayed. There were also some happy moments and it was nice to see people working together to achieve their common goals. War always brings death and it did so in this novel as well.
Very good book and it would make me very happy if there was a sequel as I really felt that the book didn't really end.
Rating 3 1/2 out of 5 (Need to know more about what happens to the characters)