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White Ghost Girls

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  758 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Two sisters growing together and apart into their emerging selves, one pulsing with curiosity and risk, the other watchful, all eyes and ears. Immersed in the heat and colors of 1960s Hong Kong, shimmering between sea and sky, of blinding light and dark, dark waters. While Frankie's behavior becomes ever more outrageous, her reticent sister, Kate, retreats into a quiet des ...more
Paperback, Large Print
Published March 1st 2007 by ISIS Large Print Books (first published January 5th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,391)
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Celeste Ng
Aug 28, 2007 Celeste Ng added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anne
When I first read about this book, I thought I would love it: Hong Kong, family secrets, thoughtful and secretive teenagers, loss. Right up my alley, right? Then, as I read it, I really wanted to hate it, because Alice Greenway is writing about the things I tend to write about (family secrets, thoughtful and secretive teenagers, loss). And she does it sooo beautifully. Her prose is so taut that it almost hurts. But I couldn't hate it. It's stark and lyrical, yet pulsing with energy and raw pain. ...more
Duane
Alice Greenway's first novel, White Ghost Girls, is exceptional. I'm amazed at the quality of some of these first novels that I read these days. This one is set in 1967 Hong Kong, and is the story of two American sisters, Frankie and Kate, both beginning their early teens. Kate is 13, the younger of the two, and is the narrator of the novel. This is a turbulent time in this part of the World. The Maoist Revolution is spilling over into Hong Kong, and neighboring Vietnam is at war with the US. Th ...more
Alicia
White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenaway is a haunting story about two sisters growing up in Hong Kong. This is another book that I am still thinking about. The younger sister is the narrator and so we see the older sister's actions through a bit of a filter. It has me thinking about the details that were left out that would explain why the older sister acted the way she did. In addition, this author has a poetic way with words. Every once in a while I would stop and reread a sentence or paragraph n ...more
okyrhoe
At first I was somewhat annoyed by the mature tone of Kate the child narrator; there was a faint imbalance between narrative complexity and the naive understanding of the little girl.
Midway I began to see how the novel resembles a poem, where images and emotions have dual meaning; one can interpret them from the child's or the adult (narrator) point of view.
There are several repeated phrases, and if I am not mistaken also a short passage at the end that echoes the opening paragraph of the book
...more
Janice
At first, I was going to give up reading this book. Though it was written very beautifully, it seemed dull. Many of the war and Vietnam words I didn't understand. But after page 60...BAM! I couldn't put it down.

The story is about sisters Frankie and Kate who live in Vietnam with their parents. The family lives there because the father has to be over seas taking pictures of the Vietnam war. While both sisters are very close, they also compete for their dad's attention when he is home. Frankie (th
...more
Anne
Dec 19, 2007 Anne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brit
The writing in White Ghost Girls is exquisite, its language as rich and precise as a prose poem's. And unlike some prose-perfect short novels, this one also satisfies with story. The plot centers around a tragedy suffered by an American family living in Hong Kong during the Vietnam War (the father is a war photographer). Greenway evokes beautifully the dynamic, generous, possessive, manipulative, and hungry loves shared among spouses, parents, children, and especially siblings. The relationship ...more
Toni
Interesting premise for the book but a little shallow for me. You really don't have to have good knowledge of the Vietnam war even though the story is written in that time. Two white girls (called white ghost girls in Hong Kong) live with their mother in Hong Kong while their father is a photographer who travels to Vietnam for 6 weeks at a time. The story gives a chronicle of the girls, how their lives are affected by the war, living in a foreign country, only having a part-time father, having a ...more
Joanna
This is a beautifully written but haunting story about two teenage American sisters living in Hong Kong during the summer of 1967. The author recounts the experience from the perspective of the younger sister Kate, who is overshadowed by her rebellious, risk taking sister, Frankie. Their father is a war-photographer in Vietnam and their beautiful but remote mother leaves her daughters supervision to their Chinese nanny. The girls find themselves in situations that are confusing and dangerous. Be ...more
Heather
I read this book whilst on holiday in Hong Kong. I think this really enhanced the writing as Alice Greenway describes Hong Kong in such a beautiful way which I was able to relate to whilst wondering around the city. I was probably heading for a 3* until the ending which really shocked me but was very cleverly done. I liked that Greenway did not sugar-coat anything and the ending felt powerful and raw. I think this is a book I will re-read slowly to savour the writing and build up now I am aware ...more
Oceania Lei
I rarely write reviews because, although an avid reader, expressing myself in words has never been my forte (I am an engineer). Reading is my escape, where I want to be swept into another world. Usually I choose a fascinating mystery by an excellent writer (p.d. james, elizabeth george, val mcdermid), intense and with a driving plot. I found White Ghost Girls to be a beautiful book and never thought of putting it down. It was not a plot-driven suspense, but I was immediately engrossed. I can onl ...more
Elizabeth
I wanted to read this book because I really loved the author's latest novel, The Bird Skinner.

The writing here is sparse and clean. The story focuses on two sisters, Frankie and Kate, living overseas with their mother and their Chinese "mother" while their father works for Time magazine as a photographer.

Kate is the narrator and early on we get the sense of just how different the sisters are in appearance and disposition. Kate is quiet, unassuming while Frankie craves attention any way she can
...more
Fran
I grabbed this book at the Peninsula Friends of the Library sale this month because the title intrigued me. It was going to be my fill-in book until I could pick up one of my holds at the library itself. Instead, I was mesmerized. Alice Greenway is not an author I know, but her prose is exquisite and getting inside the feelings of Kate and she deals with her unraveling older sister Frankie was masterful. This is a hard book, painful. There isn't a lot of happiness or joy in it, but it is very re ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
could not get into this no matter how hard i tried...the first page is nothing but questions and it lost me...i read to page 30, three times, but could never focus on the characters or the storyline
Tanja
Isabel Allende is quoted on the cover of the book: "A haunting first novel written with the craft and grace of a master." Indeed, a novel that will go under your skin, even more if you have been to Hong Kong, have fallen under its spell. The novel, inspired by true events, narrates the story of two American sisters, as different as sisters can be, living in Hong Kong with their mother, while their father is away in Vietnam, capturing the war there through the lens of his camera. Life isn't quiet ...more
Holyn
I finished this book last night and am still attempting to put my feelings/thoughts into words. I saw this on the clearance rack at Borders and almost passed it by until I saw Isabel Allende (my most favorite writer) had actually reviewed the work so I bought it.....

White Ghost Girls is set in 1960's Hong Kong. The narrator is a 13-ish year old girl - Kate - whose family is living there because her father is a war photographer in Vietnam. He visits every six weeks and the rest of the time Kate l
...more
Cat.
Set in 1967 in Hong Kong, this short novel follows two young teenage girls as they struggle to understand the dangers of world they are living in. Their father is a photographer for Time who lives only when he is in Vietnam taking pictures of the war. Their mother is distant, painting pretty pictures and avoiding thinking of anything bad, a bit of a talisman to keep her husband safe. She doesn't seem to notice, or be able to do anything about the fact that her oldest daughter is rapidly spiralin ...more
Katie Grainger
A novel which takes you to enchanting worlds and dark depths. Essentially this is a very simple story of two sisters living in Hong Kong with their mother. The white ghost girls are the two sisters and the book tells the story for Frankie but Frankie's story is narrated by little sister Kate. The two sisters striking in their differences one feisty while the other fights a losing battle to tame and in her view "save" her sister. Events move out of the two sister's control and intense emotions mo ...more
Machel
reading this with two others: "My name is Memory" & "Still Alice."

This is a SISTERS book, which is ultimately why I choose to read it.
Set in 1967 in Vietnam and Hong Kong, Frankie and Kate live with their mother in Hong Kong, while their father is a war photographer off in Vietnam.

"In this novel, the girls tumble into their teenage years against an extraordinary backdrop both sensous and dangerous. This is a tale of sacrifice and solidarity gleams with the kind of intense, complicated love
...more
Emi Bevacqua
I loved Alice Greenway's lush description of childhood in Hong Kong; I could feel the weather, see the landscape, and smell the cooking. But the story about the out of control older sister Frankie told by the younger, well-behaved sister Kate I just didn't care for. I could not understand how two girls could be allowed to grow up so wildly unprotected. My own little brother and sister attended the American School in Tokyo, so I know how wild little white kids can be overseas, and I know how loca ...more
Brittany
This book was so beautifully written, I;'m really into reading about Asian cultures. My boss recommended this book because she thought it was really accurate and well written (she grew up in china so ummm... yeah). This book was really great anyone who likes books about Korea should definitely check this one out.
White Ghost Girls follows two American sisters who are taken to live in Korea with their family while their dad photographs the war. This story tells of how they are so carefree and fun
...more
Meg
Dec 21, 2009 Meg rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: former Asia ex-pats feeling nostalgic
Like its characters, this book feels lost and confused. It just doesn't seem to know what it's trying to be. Filled with beautiful but disjoint phrases evoking the scenery of colonial Hong Kong, the novel is one part travel memoir, one part poetry, and one part novel. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't feel developed enough to carry the book, and at times I thought that Greenway would make a much better travel writer than novelist.

At times, the book is overly descriptive, making it hard to follow.
...more
Amelia
I contemplated knocking my rating down to 4 stars because I thought the ending happened too early in the sisters' story. There was bound to be a tragedy. Frankie lived life too hard for anything else. But I would like to have seen a little more exploration of why her feelings were so tumultuous and why she so desperately needed attention and affection. Why she was crying out for it.

Although I would have liked more development, I can't deny the power that this little book holds in its not quite
...more
Kristin
White Ghost Girls is set in Hong Kong during the 1960s. Frankie and Kate are two American girls living with their mother while their photojournalist father is in Vietnam photographing the war. Kate is quiet and shy. Frankie is rebellious, but also more insecure. Both are struggling to find a place in the worlds of each of their parents, but especially want to connect with their father.

Some of the prose is almost lyrical and haunting. And the Chinese obsession with ghosts foreshadows the tragic
...more
Megan
I really wanted to love this book because it belonged to my mother. It had to be one of the last ones she bought since it was published the year she died.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a great read. The author was all over the place and I felt I needed to live in Vietnam to understand much of the book.
I did enjoy the short chapters.
GoldenjoyBazyll
This is a story about sisters.... loss... pain...an American was in Vietnam all remembered through the eyes and heart of an adolescent girl. I am intrigued by the portrayal of the culture- sights and traditions of Hong Kong in the late 60's. Some the same as I remembeer it just 5 years ago... some describes a place I have never been to.

This book is heart warming and wrenching all at once. Here are two sisters coming of age in not so innocent times. Instead of worrying about things adolescent gi
...more
Jacquelynn Luben
I didn't review White Ghost Girls immediately after I read it, and I feel my memory of it has become a bit hazy.

I felt that the author had a lot to tell about living in Hong Kong in the 60s and that the atmosphere of the place came over in her description. There was tension about what would happen to these two girls - it is highlighted early on in the book that something is to happen to Frankie. However, I think the author got too carried away with atmosphere and description and needed much mor
...more
Miho
I liked that the whole story took place in China, but I never really got into the book. It is not bad written but the story seemed incoherent. I don't regret reading it though, it was okay but it won't stay in my mind.
Anna
This book was written in a memoir style and it was based on a true story. The writing was beautiful and the narrator asked several profound questions about life and coming-of-age. The story does discuss controversial topics in some detail, so I would not fully recommend it, but the introspective writing is deeply peaceful. Clearly, the author has wrestled with adolescence, fate, and death and has come to rest within a reality of living and perspective that is accepting and peaceful. She is able ...more
rachel wu
It was pretty boring most of the time, and I didnt like that there was so much s*x in the book, not very well written, but still good for a first novel. Great imagery though,
Tanya
This was recommended to me awhile ago and I am glad I finally read it. The story is told from the point of view of a young American teen who is living in Hong Kong with her older sister and mother while their father photographs the Vietnam War. There are so many themes and various historical references throughout-Mao's Cultural Revolution, Colonialism, the Vietnam War, and familial relations. The author forewarns that something ominous is going to happen to the older sister, Frankie, but it stil ...more
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Alice Greenway lived the itinerant life of a foreign correspondent's child. She grew up in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Jerusalem, as well as in the United States. She now lives in Edinburgh with her family.
More about Alice Greenway...
The Bird Skinner

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