Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)” as Want to Read:
Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  97,564 ratings  ·  7,858 reviews
In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As J ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
23rd out of 1,399 books — 6,774 voters
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Best Historical Fiction
117th out of 5,259 books — 20,210 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Eileen Souza
I'm re-rating this book up to 4 stars, but with the contingency that it must be read with Dreams of Joy. When read in conjunction with the second book, this book is excellent - really emotionally powerful. Without the second book, you'll be horribly disappointed with the the last 20 pages - and wishing for 350 more. my original review is still below.

Re-reading 5/2011 in prep for the second book Dreams of Joy. In retrospect, my review is fairly prophetic. I'm so glad there's more to the s
Feb 23, 2009 Larry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: lisa-see
Lisa’s See’s new novel, Shanghai Girls, provides a rich experience for its readers – taking them from the splendor, highlife, glamour and poverty of 1937 Shanghai to the struggles of Chinese immigrants to survive a virtual internment on Angel Island, off the coast of San Francisco, to the almost impossible challenges of trying to build a life in Los Angeles Chinatown in the context of an America that does not want them and treats them cruelly.

But despite its rich background, Shanghai Girls is ul
Linda Smith
This book was very disappointing. I went into it eager to learn about this point in history and this should have been a good book considering the premise of the story. I think it started out well and the family and events in China held my interest and seemed well-defined. Still, the tragedies never felt that compelling, and even what should have outraged me when they arrived in the US, never had the impact they would have if better written. I should have gotten angry, I should have cried, I shou ...more
This was the third book I've read by this author and I'm still confused as to my feelings for her writing. The first book I read, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I loved. I think it was all the descriptions and information about the cultural nuances, including foot binding. Then, I was excited to read, Peony in Love, until I actually started it. Then, I thought maybe this book would turn the tide either way. Unfortunately, I'm still ambivalent. It was an interesting enough story: two "modern" si ...more
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Sep 09, 2010 Lyn (Readinghearts) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lynne, Donna, Cam, Leslye, Mary
I fell in love with Lisa See's writing a few years ago when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. As such, I was really looking forward to reading Shanghai Girls when it came out. Initially though, people began saying that it did not compare. So it was with trepidation that I began reading this book, afraid that I would be disappointed. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America ...more
Helen Dunn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm going to have to admit that I stayed up 'til all hours of the night to read this book. But, that being said, I also have to say that in my opinion it's not a very good book at all. The plot is rollicking (the main characters, formerly wealthy girls in Shanghai, must escape both gangsters and the Japanese; then they go to California to join the men they've wed, first coping with a grueling and prolonged interrogation process on Angel Island; get involved in the movie business and the tourist ...more
Lisa See brings out my finest emotions. The array of words is sown deep in my mind without the fear of being uprooted. I have a younger sister; never liked when she was born. I was extremely envious of her robbing all the parental attention. Over the years through our subtle rivalries and treacherous fights we grew closer and protective of each other. Although she is four years younger than me, I feel maternal towards her, trying every possible way to shelter her happiness and smile. I do not be ...more
This is the second Lisa See novel that I've read, and both times when I've finished her books I've felt vaguely duped. There's so much historical detail in here, much of it grim, that I feel like I must be reading something sweeping and important. But the character-driven parts of the plot (often about tensions and jealousies in close female relationships) remind me more of...Danielle Steel, maybe? Dare I say it? Something kind of primal and potboiler-y and not too nuanced. So and so is the pret ...more
Ένα καλογραμμένο ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα, για ένα θέμα που για να πω την αλήθεια δεν είχα ξαναδιαβάσει. Τις δυσκολίες που βίωσαν οι κινέζοι από τον πόλεμο, την προσφυγιά κ.α. Ήταν ωραία γραμμένο, με ρεαλιστική πένα. Αυτό όμως που δεν μου άρεσε ήταν οι ήρωες, δεν μπόρεσα να συνδεθώ μαζί τους, δεν μου το επέτρεψε η ίδια η αφήγηση που δεν ήταν αρκετά συναισθηματική -αν και γραμμένη στο πρώτο προσωπο- αλλά ίσως και οι προσωπικότητες που τους έδωσε, ίσως πάλι να φταίει η πολιτισμική διαφορά που με έκανε ...more
I'm sorry to say that I thought this book was horrible. As a huge fan of Snowflower and the Secret Fan and of the beautiful characters, beautifully described scenery, tragedies, hardships, and the deep bonds between the characters within it, I went into this book hoping for something of the same. I felt the character development in this book was forced, I thought the story was all over the place, and there was never and deep understanding of the people within it. Maybe it's because I never ident ...more
Synesthesia (SPIDERS!)
This book is good, but why is it that folks don't TELL each other stuff? Is it because it makes for a better story? You get a climax when folks find out EVERYTHING in a gush of anger and such.
It' can't be healthy.

I still like this book, but I need to add the fact that does old school China HAVE to be so sad?
Even in the US these poor women get such a raw deal, especially Pearl. Her life sucked the most! All that stuff happens to her in Shanghai, they are practically enslaved by that old man. They
Kelly Ohl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Good, solid read. Strong storytelling. She's clever to have kept mentioning that the girls' English was 'perfect' because this helped with voice authenticity. Otherwise, the narrative would have seemed too Americanized. On the other hand, I felt let down by the last quarter of the book, and completely nonplussed by the ending. It all felt rushed, as if she was running to the end, and not entirely believable. In fact, I DIDNT's believe it! It just doesn't seem real that in the 1950s a young Chine ...more
Kim Wright
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah ( Paris )

من الصعب التعبير عن هذه الرواية بالكلمات ..
فهي طويلة جدا ..
الرواية من ثلاثة أقسام .
1- القدر
2- الحظ
3- المصير

وعبارة عن سرد لحياة كاملة .. عبر ثلاثة أجيال ..
للأختين بيرل وماي.
ولاحقا ( ابنتهما ) جوي
تبدأُ أحداثٌ الرواية في العامْ 1937 م وحتى الستينيات ..
لن أستطيع ان اكتب أكثر من هذا فالرواية لن يكفيها مراجعة واحدة ..
فهي طويلة جدا..
تقترب من 500 صفحة

ومليئة بالتفاصيل والتواريخ حيث نرى حياة الشقيقتين وعائلة السيد لوي اليومية..
جنبا إلى جنب مع أخبار الحرب العالمية والصراعات بين الصين واليابان والصين
I have really mixed feelings about this book, it's almost like the book is horrible and beautiful at the same time. The book is told from the perspective of the oldest of two beautiful Chinese sisters growing up in Shanghai during the 1930's. They live a pampered life until suddenly their father loses everything and sells them as brides to two young men from America to repay a debt. The book follows the sisters as they are forced to flee from their native country and find refuge in the home of t ...more
I picked this one up per a friend's suggestion. I love works of well-crafted historical fiction and a woman in Barnes & Noble said that I might enjoy the novel if I liked Memoirs of a Geisha (one of my absolute favorites).

I had never read any of Lisa See's other works. With Shanghai Girls, she clearly did her homework. There are plenty of authenticating details and the novel touches upon interesting aspects of Chinese/American history that I feel not many would know much about otherwise.

Eva Shang
This is quite possibly the most depressing book I have ever read.

I understand that this happened to a lot of people during World War II, the whole rape-sad-escape-sad-angelisland-sad-babydies-sad-ostracized-sad-husbanddies-sad...but dude the entire book is sad and depressing.

The thing is, it's not even sad in a beautiful, emotional way. It's not sad that it will make me cry. It's sad because I'm horrified and angered and all shivery from the horrific scenes painted in such great detail. It's s
There's a phrase in Chinese, chi ku (eat bitterness), which Lisa See's Shanghai Girls exemplifies perfectly. From one end of the book to the other, there's nothing but hardships and heartaches.

The first hardship I found is not actually in the story in the novel, but comes from the novel itself. See writes in the first person through the voice of Pearl, a girl growing up in Shanghai during the volatile Sino-Japanese war. Unfortunately, Pearl seems too self-aware of other people's thoughts, motive
Z Russo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Craig
Dec 21, 2012 Elizabeth Craig rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like asian literature, culture, and dynamic stories.
I really loved this book, it's one of my favorites and a must-read if you like asian literature. Lisa See builds a great story that spans over the 18 or so years that this novel takes place. At the beginning Pearl and May seem like rebellious teenage girls but soon have to grow up into young independent women because of their father's mistakes. Through all their hardships Pearl and May maintain that strong sisterly bond but, as any pair of sisters, they know how to get on each other's nerves and ...more
I have to say that writing this review actually pains me. I love Lisa See and I respect her artistry and her unique narrative voice. I’ve enjoyed all of her books and I truly wanted to love "Shanghai Girls." Unfortunately, though, I found this to be a rather lackluster novel.

Lisa’s writing, as always, flows beautifully. Her characters are complex and her grasp of Asian cultural mores is astounding. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what didn’t "work" for me, but the novel, as a whole, seemed long
العمل الروائيّ الطويل \ المتماسك \ المشوّق حتى آخر حرف لا يتأتّى لأي روائي ؛ وإن حصل فإنه لا يتكرر مرتين متتاليني!!
فتاتان من شنغهاي ثاني عمل روائي أقرأه للكاتبة الجميلة ليزا سي وثاني عمل أنبهر به لاختلافه وروعة سرده ..
في عملها الأول ركزت على الصين كوطن لكن في العمل الثاني ركزت على الصين كبلد مهجّر لأبنائه لأسباب اقتصادية \ سياسية في الفترة التي سبقت استيلاء الشيوعيين وحكومة ماو تسي على أجزاء كبيرة منها ..
وبما أن الكاتبة أمريـ\صينيّة فقد برعت في كشف الكثير عن الصينيين في بلاد المهجر..

خمسة أن
Raven Haired Girl
Jul 20, 2015 Raven Haired Girl added it
Shelves: 2015
See outdoes herself with setting, characterization and interaction. First the tension builds as China prepares for Japanese takeover. Bombs fall, casualties flood the streets, confusion ensues, carnage, mayhem impossible to escape, uncertainty thick in the air. San Francisco’s Angel Island not much better than jail, really a glorified internment camp for immigrants, the energy of Chinatown bleeds through the pages. Lastly the discrimination, prejudices and resentment of immigrants from their per ...more
Aik Chien 인첸
Pearl and May are two young, beautiful girls living in the modernized Shanghai. Everything seems to be perfect until their father tells them that he is broke and has to sell both her daughters to Gold Mountain Men (Chinese men living overseas who comes back in search for Chinese brides). They are arranged to embark for San Francisco, but Pearl throws away their tickets, insisting that she does not want to live her life with a man she does not love.

The bond between Pearl and May is special and st
Shanaghai Girls a novel by Lisa See tells the story of twenty one year old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May . Both girls are modern and carefree living in 1937 shanaghai the Paris of Asia until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have travelled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city Pearl and may set out on a journey of a lifetime.

This b
(3.5 stars)

Shanghai Girls is a historical novel that covers twenty years in the life of Pearl and her sister, May, as they move from a life of privelege to poverty to escaping Japanese attacks on Shanghai. They are sold in marriage to a couple of Chinese-American brothers and travel to Los Angeles by way of Angel Island in San Francisco. Once in LA, they experience prejudice, poverty and segregation.

The book was a quick and easy read, but I don't think it benefited from that. It really needed t
This book had so many twists and turns, I read it practically in one sitting. All in all, I was entertained!

However, the writing style didn't seem authentic to me. Even though the book is mostly set in the early-mid 20th century, the narrator seems to speak to the reader in modern discourse, and every once in a while, a dialog is peppered with typical phrases of the times. Worse than that, is how forced all of the historical details are sewn into the story. It was sort of like having a conversa
First of all, I have to get something off my chest. The previous Lisa See books I've read have not had a picture of the author on the jacket. This is her third book with a Chinese setting and Chinese characters. Her last name sounds like it could be Chinese, right? So I've been picturing a Chinese author all these years. This book jacket has a picture, and guess what? Not Asian. Not a huge deal, but interesting nonetheless.

Shanghai Girls is the story of May and Pearl, two spoiled and educated gi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See 18 95 Apr 08, 2015 09:52PM  
Goodreads Librari...: wrong author 3 70 Sep 23, 2013 03:29PM  
Topeka & Shawnee ...: Shanghai Girls 5 23 Jun 25, 2013 02:56PM  
Carlsbad City Lib...: Carlsbad Reads Together 1 10 Apr 11, 2013 01:48PM  
Somerset County L...: Shanghai Girls Supporting Materials 1 9 Apr 02, 2013 01:46PM  
RGV Book Junkies : My Book Sharing Policy 1 1 Mar 10, 2013 10:08AM  
  • Pearl of China
  • Honolulu
  • Women of the Silk
  • The Distant Land of My Father
  • All the Flowers in Shanghai
  • The Painter From Shanghai
  • The Ginger Tree
  • Empress
  • Pavilion of Women
  • Spring Moon: A Novel of China
  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser
  • The Girl from Junchow (The Russian Concubine, #2)
  • The Calligrapher's Daughter
  • Cloud Mountain
  • Bound Feet & Western Dress
  • The Blood of Flowers
  • The Space Between Us
Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

More about Lisa See...

Other Books in the Series

Shanghai Girls (2 books)
  • Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2) Peony in Love China Dolls On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family

Share This Book

“May and I are sisters. We'll always fight, but we'll always make up as well. That's what sisters do: we argue, we point out each other's frailties, mistakes, and bad judgment, we flash the insecurities we've had since childhood, and then we come back together. Until the next time. ” 157 likes
“We hug, but there are no tears. For every awful thing that's been said and done, she is my sister. Parents die, daughters grow up and marry out, but sisters are for life. She is the only person left in the world who shares my memories of our childhood, our parents, our Shanghai, our struggles, our sorrows, and, yes, even our moments of happiness and triumph. My sister is the one person who truly knows me, as I know her. The last thing May says to me is 'When our hair is white, we'll still have our sister love.” 135 likes
More quotes…