Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
A Novel

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BONUS: This edition contains a Shanghai Girls discussion guide and an excerpt from Lisa See's Dreams of Joy.

In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America. Though inseparable best friends, the sisters also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. Along the way they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.

About Lisa See

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Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.From the Hardcover edition.
Published May 14, 2009 by Random House. 418 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Shanghai Girls

Kirkus Reviews

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See’s latest fictional exploration of the lives of Chinese women (Peony in Love, 2007, etc.) begins in 1937 Shanghai, a cosmopolitan city under imminent threat of Japanese invasion.

Apr 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Pearl and May have no intention of leaving home, but after Japanese bombs and soldiers ravage their city and both their parents disappear, the sisters head for California, where their husbands-to-be live and where it soon becomes apparent that one of them is hiding a secret that will alter each o...

Mar 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel


February 28th, 2012 - Reading Lisa See's novel of two Chinese sisters awakens the reader to the hardships and struggles of many Chinese people during World War II and the Cultural Revolution.

Feb 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

Book Reporter

Instead, held as immigrant detainees on Angel Island in Los Angeles Harbor, constantly threatened with deportation back to war-torn China, the promise of streets of gold and the glitter of Hollywood turn to dust as they experience the reality of Chinese refugees in America at the end of the Great...

Feb 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

AV Club

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Instead of a wealthy “Gold Mountain man,” a Chinese native who makes his fortune in America and returns to his village in splendor, the girls find a cramped apartment full of “paper sons” with fake identity papers, and a collection of curio shops and cheap diners selling fake Chinese culture to t...

May 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

The Washington Post

"Shanghai Girls" reads like a family album, with See trying to cram in as many snapshots as possible: Pearl's Chinese American coffee shop, May's business providing props and extras for "oriental" Hollywood films, Joy in kindergarten wearing her favorite cowgirl outfit, Anna May Wong, Madame Chia...

Jul 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

Christian Science Monitor

But Pearl and May Chin, middle-class teenagers who pose for “beautiful girl” calendars in Shanghai, show reserves of toughness that would put a French legionnaire to shame when Japan invades China in 1937 in Lisa See’s new historical epic, Shanghai Girls.

Jun 05 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

Suite 101

Rhoda and Samuel each have problems but together they could be successful..

Dec 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

Tampa Bay Times

Readers will cheer for Pearl and May as they face the challenges and tragedies that at times threaten to overwhelm them and at other times empower them — as sisters and heroines of Shanghai Girls.

Oct 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

Gather Books

We live in Shanghai, where the tallest car, the tallest wall, or the tallest building sends a clear and unwavering message that the owner is a person of great importance.

Apr 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel Bestsellers

I especially recommend Shanghai Girls for book clubs.Pros'Shanghai Girls' provides a page turning story.Lisa See brings history to life in a gripping way.ConsThe ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.DescriptionShanghai Girls was released in May 2009.Publisher: Random House336 PagesGuide Review - 'Sh...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Shanghai Girls rarely challenges May and Pearl's relationship enough for us to appreciate why that bond is stronger than others."

May 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Shanghai Girls: A Novel

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