Shanghai Girls

by

Author: See, Lisa

Title: Shanghai Girls

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 314

Geographical Setting: China, United States (Los Angeles)

Time Period: 1937-1957

Series: 1st of sequel (Dreams of Joy)

Plot Summary:

Sisters, Pearl and May live a care-free and enjoyable life of modeling and luxuries wealthier Chinese were afforded in the 1930s until one day their lives were changed forever.  Forced into arranged marriages with two brothers, the girls are forced to flee war-torn China and head to America to be with their husbands.  Life in America is hard for the women, forced to live with and work for in-laws that appear to be cruel.  The women must rely on each other through the many struggles they face. This book explores complicated family relationships and the difficulties of immigration, especially for Chinese in the 1950s.

Subject Headings: Chinese-American women, Immigrants-United States, The Thirties (20th century), Sisters, Chinese-American immigrants, Father and daughter, Husband and wife, Family secrets, Betrayal, Loyalty.

Appeal: leisurely paced, bittersweet, moving, emotionally charged, well-developed characters, strong secondary character, character-centered, unresolved ending, historical, descriptive writing, sobering, family-centered

3 Appeal terms to best describe book: moving, character-centered, family-centered

3 Fiction read-alikes:

Paradise Alley, by Kevin Baker. This book was chosen because it is about immigrants, and suspicion being cast upon them. This book is also historical fiction, and explores racism, and parts of history that aren’t often discussed.

Away, by Amy Bloom. This was chosen because it deals with issues of immigration in the early 20th century.  It also deals with a mothers love for her daughter.  It also has rich, fully developed characters, and is read at a relaxed pace.

The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. This book is similar in that it is about women immigrants to the U.S.  and it deals with stereotyping and skepticism during the war. It also explores the hardships of raising children in the U.S. with a culture very different from yours. Like Shanghai Girls, it is character driven, historical, moving, and sobering.

3 Non-fiction read-alikes:

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, by Mary S. Lovell.  This book explores the lives and relationships between 6 sisters who take different paths in life.

Girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties, by Carmen Renee Barry. This book explores the loyalty and sometimes complicated relationships between women friends. The friendship between May and Pearl is an important theme in the book.

The Rice Groom: Growing up Chinese-American: From Number Two Son to Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Ben Fong-Torres.  This book is about growing up Chinese in Oakland’s Chinatown in the 1950s, and facing discrimination.

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