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. @goodreads
OMG! These girls dad sucks! This reminds me of one of her other books with the father!
*****TRIGGER WARNING: GANG RAPE & BEATING OF AN OLD WOMAN AND HER TEENAGE DAUGHTER*****
I liked the story, it did kind of remind me of Snow Flower And The Secret Fan in ways, but I liked that book a lot better.
I can't put my finger on what I didn't love about this book, I guess it just seemed to drag a little bit for me. I have to admit that I almost threw the book when I got to the rape part of the book. I skimmed as much as I could because I don't read that kind of stuff. Not word for word at any rate.
Pearl and May were having a good life being models until one day their father said he gambled all of his money away (including the girls money he was keeping for them) and that he sold them to the man he owed, Old Man Louie. They were to marry his sons, Sam and Vern.
I slip down next to May. I can't believe Mama is willing to ship us to America to cure my father's and her problems. But then isn't that the kind of thing Chinese parents have done with worthless daughters for thousands of years--abandoned them, sold them, used them?
Pearl and May decided not to go but then some goons were sent after them during the midst of a war going on with the Japanese. Pearl and May promised they would go and they had a really hard time getting their tickets changed. Lets just say that didn't work out.
One night their father didn't return home so their mother hired a boy to take them as far as he could. Pearl, May and their mom ended up in who knows where and they were attacked. Their mom told them to stay hidden in a room but Pearl came out when she realized their mom was being raped and beaten repeatedly by the Japanese. They even unbound her feet (her feet were done in the old tradition) and stomped on them too. I couldn't really read through much of this, Pearl was raped repeatedly as well. When they were gone their mom dragged herself over to Pearl and held her and talked to her until Pearl passed out and her mom died.
Later, May came out and got a wheelbarrow and carried Pearl a great distance and got them on a boat. She got Pearl to a hospital where they had to do several surgeries on Pearl and said she would never have kids.
I just have one thing to say about any kind of rapist. ↓
Pearl and May finally make it to America to be with their husbands. They had to stay where they were for some time until May had her baby. Yes, she did the deed with someone and they passed it off as Pearl's baby. Pearl named her Joy.
So the book goes on to tell of their lives in America. There are so many revelations and a lot of sadness. I felt so bad for these people. So many that were involved in such atrocities. But, anyway! I have the sequel and it's about Joy. I'm hoping something wonderful happens with Joy in that book after all of the stuff she found out at the end of this book. Something good has to come out of it all.
AMAZON LINK TO THE BOOK: