Snowflower and the Secret Fan tied (along with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak) for my top book of 2007, so I was very anxious to read the latest book by Lisa See. It did not disappoint. In fact, I am now fairly certain I will want to read most, if not all, of Lisa See’s works. Though I didn’t feel it was as good as Snowflower, I still thought it was excellent and will definitely be reading the sequel.
The novel takes place mostly in the 1940′s and 50′s, and I just love the sense of history in See’s novels. It was so fascinating to learn about the Chinese immigration process and the discrimination they endured, the dynamic of Chinatown, and the workings of the new Hollywood. Not to mention the intense relationship between Pearl and May, two sisters who are thrust into a completely new life with only each other as a reminder of the old. I also appreciate the female perspective on all their difficult situations.
Though I thought the ending of Shanghai Girls was a bit abrupt until I realized a sequel was in the works, I thoroughly enjoyed this story of sisters and the almost unbreakable bond they share. Reading a second novel by See made me even more interested in reading her non-fiction historical account, On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese American Family. I’m not a huge non-fiction fan, so that says a lot. I was surprised how much I enjoyed another Chinese family account when I read Wild Swans by Jung Chang, so I know it’s fairly certain I will like On Gold Mountain as well. Plus, it was heavily wishlisted on both PBS and Bookmooch, and that’s always a good sign.
2009, 336 pp.
[Disclosure: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher.]