Author: Lisa See
Genre: Fiction with some history thrown in
Number of Pages: 336
Where I Got It: Library
First Line: "Our Daughter looks like a South China peasant with those red cheeks," my father complains, pointedly ignoring the soup before him.
In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, and thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, 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 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. 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.
So remember the last episode of "Friends" when Ross is listening to his answering machine to Rachel arguing with the flight attendant about getting off the plane? And for a little bit we don't know if she made it off? Then she announces that she did and he turns around and she's there and everyone cheers?
Now imagine that same scene, except this time we never find out if Rachel got off the plane. Ross is still staring at his answering machine, asking himself if she did and then the show just ends.
That was the ending to this book.
Let me start from the beginning. This book is A-MA-ZING. Seriously it just became one of my faves. Pearl and May are amazing characters and author Lisa See is a pretty brilliant writer. I was completely engrossed from start to finish and felt so connected to all of the characters. I couldn't get through some of the pages fast enough!
Which is why I was SO frustrated by the ending. Literally I was like oh man here we go, Pearl is going to find Joy and something with Z.G. is about to go down. I turn the page and...
I literally yelled "You have got to be kidding me" in my bed then immediately BBMed the following to James: "The book I just finished has the shittiest cliff hanger ending. Wtf I am super pissed."
Then I calmed down and I thought about it and realized it was actually a really really good ending. The book was about May and Pearl - sisters who had been through some of the most difficult episodes anyone could ever go through. It wasn't about anybody else's relationship in the book. At the end of the day, May and Pearl had a bond that would get them through anything and that was the message, essentially, of this book. No matter what they had been through and what fights and jealousies and resentments they may have harbored, at the end of the day they were sisters and that was it.
I can't recommend this book highly enough and I can't wait to read more of Lisa See's novels. Please do yourself a favor with this one.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Coming Up Next: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
American Wife is the story of Alice Lindgren, a middle-class woman (and registered Democrat) from a small town in Wisconsin who grows up to become a children’s librarian but then falls in love with an impish young dilettante from a famously rich and political family and eventually finds herself the unlikely First Lady of the United States. The story is apparently loosely-based on the life of Laura Bush.