66 reviews

Shanghai Girls: A Novel
by Lisa See

Published: 2010-02-02
Paperback : 322 pages
93 members reading this now
134 clubs reading this now
114 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 63 of 66 members
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A gifted writer . . . explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.”—USA Today

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and ...
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A gifted writer . . . explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.”—USA Today

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. 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. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. 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.

At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are: Shanghai girls.

Praise for Shanghai Girls

“A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood.”Booklist

“A rich work . . . as compulsively readable as it is an enlightening journey.”Denver Post

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Could the deception surrounding May's pregnancy and Joy's subsequent birth have succeeded in the Angel Island setting?
Does May betray Pearl and Sam to the authorities or is "betrayal" too harsh a word?
by Neyly (see profile) 05/22/11

Use the reading guide that is available for the book.
by nursetonnie (see profile) 04/22/11

Compare/contrast the details of Chinese immigrantion with the problems of Mexican immigration - both legal and illegal - of today.
Discuss the place of women in society and relate to footbinding and style of dress.
Family dynamics change when outside forces intervene. What changes in family dynamics are present in Shanghai Girls. Which characters are strengthened and which retreat.
by [email protected] (see profile) 01/22/11

Paper boy-is it real?
Three holes-too funny.
by KathieM (see profile) 07/28/10

The sister plot. Do you think most sisters interact this way?
Why did the sisters view what happened so differently.
by amkessler (see profile) 04/30/10

I was able to find discussion questions as well as Q and A about the book written by the author on her website: www.lisasee.com.
by skarohlid (see profile) 10/02/09

Compare/contrast with Snow Flower and/or Peony in Love.
by calli42 (see profile) 05/30/09

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Don't read the suggested questions before reading
by cespana23 (see profile) 08/18/17
They give away important parts of the plot so wait until you're done reading to download the publisher's suggested discussion questions.

Member Reviews

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by Angelic S. (see profile) 10/31/18

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by Terri H. (see profile) 08/20/17

  "Slow start, but picks up quickly after - very addicting"by Camila E. (see profile) 08/18/17

Great book about the strength and changing nature of our relationships with people, places and time. The author is great at describing places and eras in a way that transports you there. Overall, great... (read more)

by Pam C. (see profile) 04/26/17

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