Set in the "Paris of Asia," Shanghai Girls is about Pearl and May; two beautiful girls growing up in a beautiful city without a care in the world. Daughters of a wealthy businessman, Pearl and May spend their days sleeping, evenings modeling for a handsome photographer, and the nights partying with their friends. They are carefree and oblivious to the political turmoil going on just outside their safe haven. That is until one day when their father tells them that he's gambled away their wealth and savings and must "sell off" the girls to suitors from America. Pearl and May witness their city being devastated by Japanese bombs and are forced to flee and embark on a journey that will change their very existence and question their places in the world.
The good: I love Lisa See's ability to transport me to another time and place. I've read Peony in Love and Snow Flower and The Secret Fan; both of those books took me to another more romantic era. I loved the glimpse into the family structure and daily life of a traditional Chinese family. These are things I would've never sought to read about on my own, yet I found myself intrigued. While I'm no authority on the subject, she seems to really do her research and provide historically accurate information to go along with her narratives. I've said it before - I love a book that makes me want to learn more. After each of her books, I've gone searching on Google to find out more. Lisa See's writing is seamless, flowing, and at times lyrical. All of her books have been an enjoyable read. She really lets you feel her characters and the experiences that they are going through.
The bad: Without giving too much away... I wasn't a huge fan of the ending. I felt like this story ended abruptly and that the last few chapters were rushed to try and give the book some form of closure.
The verdict: Great story + excellent writing + a little dose of history = A must read. You are sure to enjoy Shanghai Girls.