Shanghai Girls (by Lisa See) c.2009

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Author: See, Lisa

Title: Shanghai Girls

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 314 p.

Geographical Setting: Shanghai, China and Los Angeles, United States

Time Period: 1937-1957

Series: Not Applicable

Plot Summary: Two sisters, Pearl and May Chin, are beautiful girls who live life to the fullest in 1937 Shanghai. Unfortunately for the girls, their father has arranged marriages for them to reconcile his debts. Additionally, the Japanese open fire on China. Under great difficulty, Pearl and May immigrate to the United States to meet up with their husbands, but suffer countless delays and tragedies. Many historical characters and events fill the book. The engaging narrative, with powerful descriptions, well-developed characters, and heart wrenching events, creates a richly detailed account.

Subject Headings: Sisters, Fiction ; Chinese, United States, Fiction; Immigrants, United States, Fiction; Family secrets, Fiction; Chinese, California, Los Angeles, Fiction; Arranged marriage, Fiction; Historical fiction.

Appeal: Engrossing, measured, deliberate; atmospheric, candid, dangerous, evocative, introspective, melancholy, moving, thoughtful, unsettling; detailed character development, detailed secondary character(s) development, realistic, sympathetic; family-centered, linear, resolved ending, thought-provoking; intimate; classic, unpretentious.

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, bittersweet, detailed setting.

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

Jamie Ford, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, examines a Chinese coming-of-age story during World War II. Similar theme, complete with family relationships, but with a multi-layered plot.

Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses, is a true-life novel set in the American West at the turn of the 20th century. Comparable with respect to character development and frame detail.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Rhoda Janzen, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress : A Memoir of Going Home, follows the introspective journey of a Mennonite who returns to her childhood roots.

Christopher Buckley, Losing Mum and Pup : A Memoir, examines Christopher’s self-discovery after losing his parents in his fifties.

Annotation by Carlen

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