Category: Other Asian 5 out of 5s

Lisa See’s — Shanghai Girls *****

Lisa See’s — Shanghai Girls *****

Two sisters, Pearl and May, lead exciting lives in Shanghai until their father’s once rich lifestyle is gambled away. Their father is forced to sell his daughters as wives to men in California seeking wives. Escaping from invading soldiers, they journey across to U.S.A. to begin new lives with the strangers they’ve married. This is Lisa See at her best.

Eugenia Kim’s — The Calligrapher’s Daughter *****

Eugenia Kim’s — The Calligrapher’s Daughter *****

Najin doesn’t want to live a traditional Korean life, but her father tries to force her into a marriage with an aristocratic family. Her mother, defying the traditional obedient wife, arranges a position for her daughter in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. With Japan’s control over the country and the dying monarchy, Najin’s life becomes oppressive. When she unexpectedly finds love, they are soon separated and she must face Japan’s attack on China and Pearl Harbour while her husband is an ocean away.

Lisa See’s — The tea girl of Hummingbird Lane *****

Lisa See’s — The tea girl of Hummingbird Lane *****

With a through line about pu’er—a variety of tea plucked from ancient tea trees, Li-yan is the first Akha girl from her Chinese hill tribe to be educated. Instead of furthering her studies, she drops everything for her childhood sweetheart whom her parents disapprove of. Together they unsuccessfully seek the child Li-yan was forced to abandoned in an orphanage during his absence before they leave for Thailand. While she is away, her poor village prospers from the sudden popularity of pu’er while Li-yan becomes destitute from her opium addicted husband. She has not forgotten the daughter she was forced to abandoned, but soon her life begins to change.

I’ve read all Lisa See’s books and there isn’t one I wouldn’t give a five out of five. 

Qian Julie Wang’s—Beautiful country*****

Qian Julie Wang’s—Beautiful country*****

Under the repressive Mao regime, the Wangs decide to leave China. Qian’s parents are highly educated, but as illegal immigrants in the U.S., they can only take on menial work. Without papers they are trapped in a cycle of poverty, discrimination, and a fear of being deported. This takes a toll on her parents’ relationship with each other. Meanwhile, Qian starts school, but receives little support to help her learn English. Through children’s books, she begins to understand and teaches herself how to read. But can the family keep living a life where they fear they may be sent back to China?

This memoir is an insight into the lives of illegal immigrants and the endless hardships that seem impossible to overcome.