Lisa See has recreated Shanghai China in the 1930’s and the escape from the Japanese invasion by two sisters. Their experience is compelling. They eventually make it to Los Angeles and Angel Island. Although they are married (arranged by her father) to young Chinese American men, they struggle with interrogations and accusations by the authorities. Their new lives in America are difficult and opportunities become fewer as World War II rages. They are able to maintain a semblance of Chinese tradition and culture by living in Chinatown and working there. This story centers around the sister’s stories, their closeness, and their difficulties. It is not always an easy relationship because they are very different. One sister bears a child then the other raises it. The other sister loses her child. When one sister betrays the other once again, the results are catastrophic.
I was mad when I came to the end of this novel. There was so much more to the story. That’s when I found “Dreams of Joy” the second book and read it in two days also. Thank you, Lisa See for bringing such richness to the story, the people, the places and the time.