War Through the Generations Reading Challenge Guidelines

War through Generations Reading Challenge will be hosted by Anna and Serena. The first reading challenge is World War II.

Here are a couple of rules:
1. You need to read at least five books from January 1, 2009 to Decmber 31, 2009. Both Anne and Serena encourage the challengers to read more than that though.

2. You do not need to have a blog to sign up.

There is a reading list where you can choose from. The list includes both fiction and nonfiction World War II related books. You can find more information in their site.

So what are you waiting for? Come and join the challenge.

Selected Books

1. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

2. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

3. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

4. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, Translated by Sandra Smith

5. City of Thieves by David Benioff

I love reading about World War II but I am not sure if I will be able to read more. I will leave the list like it is for now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Pub. Date: May 2009
ISBN-13: 9781400067114
Pages: 314
Ratings: 4 out of 5

Summary: 1937. Pearl and May Chin are sisters who live in Shanghai, China. They lived the modern, glamorous lives of beautiful girls - models who pose for pictures. Their happy lives are threatened after their father forced them into arranged marriages after he came into financial ruin. Things go from bad to worse when the Japanese invade China. After a horrifying tragedy, the sisters survive, and they go to Angel Island where they are detained to go to America to join their husbands. Once they reach America, they face even more challenges and discrimination.
The storyline spans from the 1930’s Shanghai to 1950’s Los Angeles, going from World War II to the Communism that lead to paranoia and frenzy which gripped America during the early years of the Cold War.

Review: This was probably one of the saddest books I have ever read. The storyline had one adversity after another, and after awhile I wondered: Will Pearl and May ever find any happiness?

Pearl is older than May. She is May's protector and will do anything for her younger sister. She is the narrator of the story and she bears all the weight of the responsibility of the older sister. In the beginning, she starts out as a strong, wise character, but that changes after Japan invaded China. Although she survives from a terrible fate, Pearl becomes traumatized from the memories of the war and stops living. She spirals into depression even though she has a daughter and eventually comes to love her husband, Sam.

May, on the other hand, has her share of tragedy. At the beginning of the story, she is considered to be naïve and sheltered by her sister and her parents. She survives the war with her sister. Yet, unlike Pearl who clings to the past even after they have a chance to start over in America, May embraces her new life. She shows strength and perseverance which thrills and delights me. I think she is misunderstood by her sister and sometimes by me. Surprisingly, I came to like her just as I like Pearl.

What I really liked about this book is how Ms. See showed the loving relationship between Pearl and May. They love each other and will do anything for each other. They are friends as well as rivals. I think those who have siblings can somewhat relate to their close relationship. I have an older sister myself and our bond is somewhat similar to Pearl and May’s.

The ending was abrupt, at least to me. My reaction was like: Was that it? I also felt that another tragedy was too much for Pearl. It made me wonder if the author liked Pearl at all, but that’s just me.

Recommendation: I strongly recommend this book especially to all historical fiction lovers.

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