rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. Pearl and her sister May are "beautiful girls" in pre WW2 Shanghai. They pose for commercial artists, and enjoy life as "modern" Chinese women. Then their father goes bankrupt and sells them to his main debtor as brides for his American sons. Pearl and May find themselves caught in the midst of war with Japan as they begin their married lives with husbands in America. After a traumatic and tragic journey they arrive in Los Angeles to discover that their rich "Gold Mountain" men are actually struggling to survive as immigrants in a where being Chinese is being the dregs of society. The novel traces Pearl's struggle to come to terms with her life and circumstances, and follows her as she tries to figure out what she wants to keep of her Chinese identity, and she wants to adopt as American.
This is a side of history that is not well-known in mainstream American culture, and Lisa See evokes the terror, cruelty, and hardships faced by Chinese immigrants well.
I was disappointed in the ending - it felt rushed, and left me hanging, but the rest of the book was compelling and fascinating.
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