Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shanghai Girls – An Interesting Head Shaking Read

Our book club, Circle of Sistahs had the privilege of reading Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See

My goodness gracious, if you haven't read this book, please do. This is such an interesting and head shaking read. Seriously, as you read about May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, who are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated - you will get caught up, you will get involved, and most of all, you will be moved.

The girls are living a nontraditional and carefree life of privilege, sadly they are unaware their family is on the verge of bankruptcy, until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese 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.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown's old ways and rules.

I really would like to see this book adapted into a movie - as long as it stays true to the storyline as written by Lisa See. Perhaps they can take a page from another book focusing on Women of Asian descent, "The Joy Luck Club" (1989) is a best-selling novel written by Amy Tan. It focuses on four Chinese American immigrant families in San Francisco, California who start a club known as "the Joy Luck Club," playing the Chinese game of mahjong for money while feasting on a variety of foods. In 1993, the novel was adapted into a feature film directed by Wayne Wang and starring Ming-Na, Lauren Tom, The screenplay was written by the author Amy Tan along with Ronald Bass. They had the good sense to have the author write the screenplay and that may have been the reason the movie manage to mirror the book so well. And I see no reason why they cannot do the same with Shanghai Girls.

Did I say, this is a must read for any book club and/or reader? If I didn't say it, consider it said. Read, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.

I did not receive a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my review. The opinions are mine.

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