If Chinese culture is one of your passions, you need to read Shanghai Girls, a beautiful novel written by an American author with Chinese roots, Lisa See.
The book is divided in three parts, each with a certain name: Fate, Fortune and Destiny. In each of these parts, there are several chapters, all with titles that emphasize what happens in the story of Pearl and May, the two sisters who are the main characters of Shanghai Girls. Born rich and used to have everything, the two girls are shocked when they learn their parents will marry them with boys they chose without them knowing. Although they accept the arranged marriages, the sisters set a different plan from the one the family of their husbands have. They should shortly after the marriage follow their men in the United States of America, but they refuse to do it. When the war begins in China and it reaches the area of Shanghai and their father disappears, the girls and their mother, who secretly kept the tickets for the United States, run away together hoping to actually get to America. The drama unfolds as Pearl is repeatedly raped and beaten and their mother dies. The two sisters finally manage to board a ship heading to the States, but they are stopped on Angel Island because their stories don’t make sense to officials. At some point, May admits she is pregnant, but not with her husbands and together they decide to pass the newborn as Pearl’s. After the birth, they clear their legal situation and they leave Angel Island for Los Angeles to move in the home of their mother and father in law, as they are married to brothers. Unfortunately, nobody expects Pearl and May with their arms open.
In order to write this wonderful story about the two Chinese sister, Lisa See was helped by her Chinese American family. The author herself grew up in Los Angeles Chinatown and China was always fascinating for her. If you want to find see her speaking about the book, you should watch the video bellow in which the bestselling author offers some insights too.
You can buy the book online, but if you already read it, you can think about reading the next book, the sequel of Shanghai Girls, named Dreams of Joy.