Friday, February 11, 2011

From Shanghai to L.A.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
This isn't the type of book I normally choose to read, but I found it one a "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" table, and since I already had two books (One Day and You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again) I picked up this one being the most appealing option. It was good reading something out of my normal comfort zone, but even more than that I was pleasantly surprised by the book.

Shanghai Girls is told from the point of Pearl, a "beautiful girl" living in Shanghai in the 1930s. But early in the book she, along with her younger sister, are "sold" into an arranged married to two American men. The story follows the girls from their life in Shanghai in the last '30s all the way through their life in Los Angeles in the late '50s.

I love reading book where I learn information and being that this was a slightly new time period for me I seemed to learn a lot. The book picks up on so many things I'd never thought about before. For example, when I normally think of oppressed Chinese in America I imagine those building railroads in the 1800s. I never really think about what it was it was like for Chinese American living through WWII and dealing with the effects of Communist China.

I also found intriguing the number of family secrets explored in the book. While this isn't based on one specific family, it is still based on the stories of several individuals. It made me think about family history, and how we're basically only relying on information based down, and having to trust that we're getting the full story from them.

Finally I loved hearing about L.A. during this time period. It's always fun reading about places you recognize, and I loved it when I knew exactly where certain scenes were taken.

When I started the book I couldn't put it down. I had to know what would happened chapter to chapter. But as the book progressed instead of have chapters take place back to back, it would often skip several years between chapters. I'm not saying I lost interest at this point, that's to strong of a description, but at that time the book did start to lose it's grip on me.

And then there was the ending, which I wasn't a big fan of. Part of me understand it ended the way it did, but it just wasn't what I wanted to read. Although there's a few open ends left at the ends. But after a little research she is planning on writing a sequel! I definitely do plan on checking the sequal out, and can only hope it's as captivating as this one.



  1. I am reading this right now and have just maybe 20-30 pages left? I haven't 'loved' it, but it has been an interesting/eye-opening read!

  2. This one's been on my tbr list. It looks great. Gret review!

  3. It definitely sounds like an interesting book!

  4. I couldn't decide if I wanted to read this one. I loved her previous one "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" but saw mixed reviews about this one. I'll put it on my ever expanding "to read" list now!