Synopsis: This is a novel about two Chinese sisters, Pearl and May, leaving Shanghai and migrating to Los Angeles in the mid-1930s. When they got to United States, they found themselves detained and treated badly for months, undergoing many trials and terrible circumstances. Even when they got out, they still found that it wasn't going to be any easier for either of them, for they not only have to face the many possible challenges in store for them, but also keep a secret that might threaten their lives overall.
Review: Having read Lisa See's previous books, Peony in Love and The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and being more of a fan of the latter, I had quite a few expectations. Some were delivered, but most weren't.
First off, I have to say it, the author is a very good story-teller, and is able to give us many views and sides of Chinese culture and traditions. Also, it was an easy read. It was simple, yet direct, and was easy to understand.
However, I thought that it lacked a great deal of excitement to keep me interested throughout. The characters were okay, but they weren't as likable as I would have wished them to be.
Also, I thought that there were too many plots and sub-plots on top of one another, that there were a couple of times I really thought the book was getting too long. At the same time though, I was still curious and decided to just invest more time with the story, and see what would happen next and how it would end. Having said that, unfortunately, I wish I didn't spend too much time on this one. The author wrote with too many unnecessary details and information. I could've skipped them all, for they did not really contribute much to the actual story, but like I said, I decided to just stick with it and see how it would go.
Again, unfortunately, I was quite disappointed after finishing this. It seemed like the potential was there, but the delivery fell short.
In the end though, I really do think the author is talented, and is able to weave stories about family relationships as well as culture very well. I don't hate the book, but I am not exactly raving about it. I don't recommend it as much as I would recommend The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan better if you are looking for a Lisa See book. And if you were really interested in checking out books about Chinese culture and the like, I wouldn't suggest Lisa See as much as I would suggest Amy Tan. Nevertheless though, this is, overall, an engaging read, but backed up with a couple setbacks.