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Paper Wife

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  9,084 ratings  ·  724 reviews
Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous
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Published (first published October 30th 2018)
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Chava I realize this question is old, but maybe others have the same question.

My husband is of Chinese heritage and I was raised near San Francisco. This…more
I realize this question is old, but maybe others have the same question.

My husband is of Chinese heritage and I was raised near San Francisco. This is fairly historically accurate for the immigrant experience for the Chinese who came to America via Angel Island. If you care to, I highly recommend the PBS documentary Chinese Immigrants And The Gold Rush. Also, looking into the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 would provide more depth. The idea of "paper sons" is something I've learned a great deal of through my time in San Francisco's Chinatown and the museums there, but not much is said about there being paper wives. Stanford published a paper about the immigration issues facing Chinese wives during this time period titled "A 'Vital Question of Self-Preservation': Chinese Wives, Merchants, and American Citizens Caught in the 1924 Immigration Act" which seems to substantiate the events in this novel. The PDF of that article is freely available if you Google the title.

As far as cultural sensitivity, this is harder for me to offer an opinion on as I am not Chinese and my husband's family is from Mandarin-speaking Northern China which is different from the Cantonese-speaking south in not only language, but also in customs. China is a huge country, much too big to be represented in a book like this. However, the way certain customs is described is accurate to a lot customs and culture that encompass most of China, especially since unification. I have brought up a few concepts that I wasn't sure about to my husband and his view is that these could very well be accurate and are not at all offensive.

Hopefully this is a helpful contribution!(less)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  9,084 ratings  ·  724 reviews


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Gina
This book drew me in from the first page and didn't release me until the last - even then, I didn't really want it to end.

The novel begins in 1923 in China. Already, that has my interest as I love historical fiction books with the added bonus of life and traditions in China thrown in. I was hooked.

Mei Ling's sister was to become the "paper wife" of a widower with one small son (whom he has yet to meet) who will be living in California. When her sister becomes very ill just before she is to leave
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Kathryn in FL
An Engaging Story of Love and Loyalty in all its Splendor!

Ibrahim delivers another solid read based on history with rich characters living in challenging times. I loved a earlier read. "Yellow Crocus" and now she has enriched her readers lives with "Paper Wife". I struggled with my rating because I would have liked to see her relationship with her husband to continue further but the ending was perfect and it was a satisfying finish.

Mei Ling's sister is set to marry a Chinese man living in
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Kristie
This was a wonderful book. I really enjoy Laila Ibrahim's writing. I loved the first book I read by her, Yellow Crocus. This story has similar pacing.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this story. Some of them were more well-rounded than others, but I still enjoyed hearing their stories. A couple of questions were left open, so you don't know everything you want to about all of them, but you know them all well enough.

I would have given the story 5 stars except for a couple of minor
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Karen Kay
I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review.

Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife. Set in early 1920's, California, Mei Ling is forced to protect her fragile marriage and her children by making decisions that will have a life long effect.

Easy read, good historical fiction story that would be appropriate for younger teens.

3
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Amber
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooksiown
When Mei Ling's sister gets ill, Mei Ling takes her sisters place to become a paper wife for her new husband Kai Li who is taking her and his son Bo back home to California. Will she survive and adapt to her new home while having a happy family? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good read and my final read for 2019. If you enjoy historical fiction about Chinese american immigrants and surviving in a new land, then be sure to check this book out at your local library and
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Amie's Book Reviews
With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the
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Fontaine
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maya B
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but a very slow read in my opinion. I felt the characters needed a lot more depth. This is my least favorite read by this author
Tammy
Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim is a must read for fans of Lisa See and Amy Tan. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Mei Ling!
Karen
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but very unrealistic. Kind of disappointing
Jerilyn
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!

This book deserves all 5 Stars! I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down. A beautifully written story. Laila, you've got a winner with this one!
Dawn Michelle
It is difficult to review a book like Paper Wife because there is just so much there and any review would have to include spoilers and I am not that kind of review writer [typically]. So I am trying to think of a way to encourage you to read this lovely book without giving anything away. If you read the blurb on Goodreads, it does just that, so I encourage you to NOT do that. I was so glad that I didn't look at that until I was more than halfway in and already knew some of the stuff that they ...more
Aja: The Narcoleptic Ninja
This was a quick and engaging read. I enjoyed it, but I wanted more. There were a lot of secrets and things in the book to create tension, but most of it came to light without too much conflict. I wanted a little more character development, a little more of the backstory and motives for some of the characters, etc. It was a good read, but I wanted more.
Donna J
Just okay..not as great as I had wished

I read & listened to ‘Paper Wife’ because I adore every book from Laila Ibrahim! Yet I couldn’t help but feel I was reading “Shanghai Girls” another author, yet about 10 hours less and less details. It was so close to the same story line, but different time..matchmaker involved in lives & the Chinese girl being sent to Angel Island in San Francisco to the same husband type..always say they have money but have none..and a pregnancy. The difference
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Kathryn
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.25/5 stars

I really enjoyed "Paper Wife." This novel provides such realistic, or what I think is realistic, insight and emotion into what it was like to be what is termed a "paper wife."

A paper wife, or paper son, daughter, etc., is someone who is essentially sold by their family to a husband, or another family. In this novel, you meet a young woman who is sold to be married. She does not meet her husband until she has just married him. They end up travelling from southern China to the United
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Toni
Mar 17, 2019 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook-read
Picked this up because Nancy Wu is one of my favorite narrators…BUT
DNF- I can’t deal with how this author makes her historical characters have contemporary ideas, values, morals, and other traits. In this book, a rural country teen girl of Chinese descendent (brand new Communist China no less) emigrates to the USA in the early 1900s and her inner voice, her education, and her world views are comparable to a modern woman. Not buying the malarkey….

The concept is great & the story interesting
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Mary Ann
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a simple, book without nuance in its language, plot, and characters-quite predictable. It might be okay for young teens who have never read anything about Chinese immigration and settlement in the U.S. Glad this was a Kindle freebie.
Candace Arnold
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laila Ibrahim is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction authors. This story is pristine in every way. Highly recommend.
Melissa
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this novel for my book club. I didn't even know it existed before they presented it as one of the choices. I'm glad it was chosen, as I enjoyed reading it. The experience was enhanced by Laila Ibrahim chatting with my book club on Skype.

The premise reminded me of 90 Day Fiancé, as it was about a woman from another country going to America to marry someone she barely knew. She didn't know what to expect and was also deceived upon arrival. I liked how she forged a life for herself once she
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Steve
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1923, Mae Ling , second sister born in the year of the dragon, lives with her family, reduced in size and circumstances, in a village in China. When a matchmaker comes, her parents accept a match for her sister. It is not to be and Mei Ling must take her place and travels to America as the wife of a widower – his paper wife.

The months-long voyage is difficult, only to arrive at Angel Island to see if she will be accepted, with her husband's son, by immigration. While detained there, she meets
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Janice
There be dragons! Mei Ling was born during the year of the dragon and proved to be a strong fierce woman.

In the 1920's, Mei Ling was married to a complete stranger and moved to San Francisco under his first wife's name. Her assumed name was not the only deception that shadowed her new life.

The book was quite interesting. I enjoyed learning about the immigrant experience that Mei Ling shared with many Chinese.
Margaret Duke-Wyer
Five stars all the way.

Eighteen year old Mei Ling and her sister Jah Jeh are living in a village with their family. It is 1923 and times are hard as China rebounds from famine, war and disease. A matchmaker has been employed and a husband has been found for Jah Jeh who is destined to travel to California with her merchant husband and his orphaned son Bo. Unfortunately she is stricken with a fever and Mei Ling must take her place as the matchmaker will not refund her fee. Such is the desperation
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Cynthia (Bingeing On Books)
This was quite an interesting story about a young woman marrying a man she doesn't know and leaving her home in China to make a life in the United States. From the first page, I was fascinated by Mei Ling's life and engaged with her story. I liked the growth that she showed and her determination in overcoming adversity in America and making a new life with her new family. The only issue I had was that I thought the author didn't quite go far enough with the relationship development between Mei ...more
Lilly  Minasyan
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. What a beautiful novel this was! I couldn’t stop listening to the story, I needed to know the ending, how it will end.
Don’t want to spoil this book for anyone, but if you come across to this book, definitely read it!

I am so confident that people would love this story!
Jinx:The:Poet {the Literary Masochist, Ink Ninja & Word Roamer}
"It will seem impossible to take the first step. But on the second step, since you already did one, you know you can take another. Then another and another. Before long you will have walked into your new life."

Paper Wife was a fascinating novel, written by Laila Ibrahim. It takes place in China, and later, in the United States, during the early 1920’s, just as new foreign immigration laws are being passed. The premise was fascinating to me.

"From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a
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Meagan Beard
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found Paper Wife to be *quite* the thriller and hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was also one of the most endearing and sweet love stories I have encountered. As many stories and people are, the moral compass is not always as black and white as it seems. This story felt very authentic and genuinely pulled on my heart strings on a few occasions. It also gave me an insight and respect into a culture I know very little about. It's about 1 in 10 books that grip me like this one did, ...more
Diane
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this novel.
I can only review by personal feeling. The story is heart wrenching. The circumstances of the early Chinese immigration to North America are heart breaking. What they were forced to endure to establish a life in the new world would be insurmountable for most people. Amazing
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Barb
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paper wife

What a beautiful, touching story, and so very well written. It really touched my heart and is going on my favorites book list!!
Joy
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is exactly what comes fo mind when historical fiction is mentioned. The time, place, and circumstances engage the mind while the characters and the challenges they face navigating that landscape capture the heart.

There is quite a bit of cultural/historical content, but the book still flows smoothly and rather quickly. I read way past my bedtime night after night because I was so engrossed in Mei Ling’s story. This was my first Laila Ibrahim book, but I seriously doubt it will be my
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English
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars
Loveable characters and a moving story. I liked it, but wished this similar immigrant story were told be as beautifully as Daughter Of Fortune by Allende. Will be watching this author to see how she matures as a writer.
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My education and experience in multiracial, developmental psychology and attachment theory provide ample fodder for my novels. My passion for early childhood education, child birth and religious education are reflected in my writing.

I was the founder and director of Woolsey Children's School where I had first hand experience loving children that were not my own. There are scenes in Yellow Crocus
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“It will seem impossible to take the first step. But on the second step, since you already did one, you know you can take another. Then another and another. Before long you will have walked into your new life.” 9 likes
“We do not know our fate. This may be a forever goodbye; it may only be for years. My love for you will never waver, however long or however far.” 5 likes
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