I luckily reserved this book at the library a few months ago and was among the first readers to get a copy. Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is one of my favorite books, so I was very excited read See’s latest novel.
Shanghai Girls is the story of two sisters that have a special bond throughout their lives. Pearl and May are “beautiful girls” in Shanghai in the 1930’s. Much to their parent’s dismay, they pose together for artists for calendars and advertisements. They live a life of leisure in Shanghai’s upper class. When their father loses it all, the girls are forced into arranged marriages with Sam and Vern respectively. When their new husbands leave for America, the girls find a way to trick their new father-in-law and stay behind. Unfortunately for them, shortly thereafter the Japanese attack China at the start of WWII and their lives are further changed forever. They eventually make their way to America and their husbands through a perilous journey. In America they face hardships due to racism, poverty, and family troubles. Through it all they discover the worth of family and of their relationship as sisters. They have struggles between the two of them, but at the end of the day, they are still sisters and understand each other better than anyone.
I loved Pearl and May and also loved reading of their struggles through the changing world. The family dynamics and relationships were also intriguing. I loved this book until the ending . . .or rather the lack thereof. I literally turned the page and was surprised to see the book was finished. I quickly looked it up and discovered See is hard at work on a follow-up novel. I think she should have either found a better way to end this book, or just produced a very thick book that had the entire story as one unit. Did anyone else have this problem at the end of this book?