Review & Giveaway: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Title: Shanghai Girls

Author: Lisa See

Genre/Pages: Fiction/336

Publication: Random House; May 26, 2009


Source: Review copy courtesy of Random House for TLC Book Tours

Through war, death, arranged marriages, and the hardship of life, Pearl Chin and her younger sister May know that their bond as sisters is the one thing that will sustain them both.

A beautifully written novel that tells of just about every hardship a family can have, Shanghai Girls is not a light read but is a great one.  Lisa See expertly crafts a story that engrossed me from page 1 with rich descriptions of 1930s Shanghai (and later, Los Angeles), and characters who were flawed yet credible.

At times, I felt that See was actually relating a non-fiction piece because of her vivid and historically accurate imagery of war-torn Shanghai and life in America for Chinese and other minorities in the wake of Pearl Harbor.  As in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, it’s evident that See did thorough historical and cultural research on the eras, cities, and customs of her characters.

Pearl and May overcome obstacle after obstacle and despite everything, manage to create or find scraps of happiness to cling to, preventing the novel from being one of total heartbreak and despair.  I can see how some readers might find this novel bleak–the last 50 pages left me reeling–but the news that See is working on a sequel allows for the hope that all is not lost for Pearl and May.

A book that spans decades and continents, Shanghai Girls has much to offer readers.  Ultimately, See captures the essence of a relationship between two sisters–the joy, pain, friendship, protective and competitive natures–no matter the culture.

To enter to win a copy of Shanghai Girls, please leave a comment below.  Two winners (US/Canada only) will be selected on Monday, January 25th.  Good luck! Congrats to Jenners and Jess, the lucky winners!


Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book!

For more reviews, please visit these other tour hosts:

Booking Mama

Savvy Verse & Wit

Dolce Bellezza

Word Lily (1/22/10)


  1. I have been hearing a lot about this book around the book blogs and would love to read it – thanks for the review and giveaway.

    BTW – this tweet from you on the top of your blog made me laugh out loud in the office – what grade do you teach?

    “Grading exams & weeping: The reason there is no American Lit. prior to 1600s is NOT “no printers” nor “nothing interesting to write about”.” — booklineNsinker

  2. I can’t believe I call myself a “serious reader” and have never read anything by Lisa See. I have Snow Flower in my TBR stack, but this one sounds fabulous, too! Great review, and I’d love to be entered in the giveaway. Thanks Nat! 🙂

  3. Hey Curly Pal,
    I am really enjoying your reviews…I miss your snarky life blog…however this is great. I have recently received a Kindle as an early birthday gift and I am in LOVE! just trying to use a bit of self control…still like honest to goodness books…so consider sending me the book b/c you love me best LOL
    .-= Connie´s last blog ..That’s What She Said =-.

  4. I really loved this novel. Great review. No need to enter me in the giveaway though.
    .-= Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)´s last blog ..Vietnam War Reading Challenge Update, and More =-.

  5. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I’ve heard great things about Lisa See, but unfortuantely have not had the pleasure! This book definitely sounds like a great one. Thanks again! 🙂

    .-= Rayna´s last blog ..bridal show… =-.

  6. I would love to win this book. I love Lisa See.
    amandarwest at gmaildotcom

  7. I can’t wait to read this! No need to enter me.
    .-= Kathy R (Bermudaonion)´s last blog ..Review: Battle Royale =-.

  8. I seriously need to read this book. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan a while ago and I loved it. I have no idea why I haven’t read anything else by her yet but I need to change that. Shanghai Girls and Peony in Love are both going on my list to read this year. We will see if I get to both. Thanks for the giveaway.
    .-= Jess – A Book Hoarder´s last blog ..The Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan =-.

  9. Glad that you enjoyed this book. I’m looking forward to reading this sometime soon. Also, thanks for hosting the giveaway. I’d love to join in. 😀

  10. I’m trying “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” this year and I’m assuming it will be pretty good so please enter me in the giveaway for this book. Thanks!
    .-= Jenners´s last blog ..My Favorite Reads: "The Classics Reclassifed" by Richard Armour =-.

  11. Nice, concise review. I am also part of the Shanghai Girls book tour, so no need to enter me in this great giveaway. 🙂
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks: The Power of Words =-.

  12. I’ve never read any Lisa See. Shanghai Girls seems like a great place to start; it seems to be universally loved.

    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Wait Till Next Year =-.

  13. You said the last 50 pages left you reeling; those are the pages that about did me in. I was holding on to every hope I had, and when I got there, I just felt crushed. I liked your review, and the way you pointed out the historical research which surely was effective.

    On the side, your statement at the top of your blog about why there’s no American Lit prior to 1600 Cracked Me Up! Hysterical! I can’t figure out if kids are being annoying on purpose, or they’re really that stupid. 😉

    nat says: i *hope* they were going for humor…

  14. Hi Nat! Great, well-written review. I’m so happy you enjoyed the book. Thanks so much for all the time you spent reading and reviewing Shanghai Girls. It is much appreciated!!
    .-= Lisa Munley´s last blog ..A Contest for Tea with Adriana Trigiani =-.

  15. Jennifer Lewis says:

    I’d love to win a copy of the book. I love reading good books. The last book I read was Firefly Lane. Easy read, sweet, sad.

  16. I’d love to read this! Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  17. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan…loved it! I’d like to read this one also. Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. Your review has me super excited and looking forward to picking this book up at the Erie library (yes I frequent my library as much as possible…even in the snow ;))
    .-= Sammy25´s last blog ..DC Bound =-.

  19. Thank you for the chance to win a coy of Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls. I have been wanting to read this book as I have enjoyed her others ever so much.
    knittingmomof3 (AT) gmail (DOT) com
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..What Are You Reading on Mondays? 25 January =-.


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