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In Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls, this compelling novel is divided into three parts.
In Part One – Fate, in 1937 we meet two beautiful Shanghai sisters Pearl and May Chin. They happily indulge in their stable bourgeois life, but their lives will forever be changed. These sisters face accepting traditions, unkind consequences, and the harsh effects of war as they travel through China to escape to America for their safety. Once in America they quickly face tedious immigration process on Angel Island in San Francisco. These sisters work together to plot against the immigration agents in order to be released to their arranged husbands. During these long months of detainment, the sisters learn to grow stronger in their relationship as they share a life-long secret.
In Part Two – Fortune, Pearl and May finally meet with their new family in Los Angeles. They try to adjust to the American life as they are obligated to work, fall in love with their new husbands, strive for acceptance and meaning of family, face inequality and discrimination, and try to continue to embrace their Chinese culture. These sisters slowly adapt to their new, upbeat atmosphere while they accept their brand new roles.
In Part Three – Destiny, the sisters finally find ease and acceptance of their lives but continue to face more obstacles and tragedies. Pearl and May grown accustom to their lifestyle differently as they take on new responsibilities. They learn to finally become a united family as they open up their hearts and learn the detailed truth that pieces everything together. Though their lives may seem finally at peace, they fear for their citizenship as they confront the ugly misconceptions of the war. In the end, they understand their unchanging fate as Pearl finds her way back to her beginnings.
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