You know that sinking feeling when you finish a long fabulous book- you are so sad that it is over? I had that feeling when I finished Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. What an amazing book! It was in my top book list of 2009- here.
Great news- the sequel comes out May 31st, Dreams of Joy. The story picks up EXACTLY where Shanghai Girls left off. Lisa See does a masterful job of bringing you back up to speed in a matter of a few pages so you are immediately back into the story line.
The themes in this book are strong- motherhood, sisterhood, friendship, Chinese values. The relationship between Pearl and May, sisters, is as strong and unique as it was in the prior book. The relationship between Pearl and Joy, mother and daughter, really comes to light in Dreams of Joy. I found this quote to be especially powerful:
“I wanted to cry because sometimes it’s just so damn hard to be a mother. We have to wait and wait and wait for our children to open their hearts to us. And if that doesn’t work, we have to bide our time and look for the moment of weakness when we can sneak back into their lives and they will see us and remember us for the people who love them unconditionally.”
Lisa See’s writing is simply magical taking you to a full range of emotions. This quote made me smile, “If you show kindness to your mother-in-law, who like all women has been bred to hate her daughter-in-law, then you will create an obligation she will never be able to repay.”
See’s descriptions of socialist China are riveting. When Joy marries, she quickly learns, “Even in the new society, women must care for the husband, children and older members of the family. … All this they do and work outside too. … At the end of the day, women should be ready to make another baby for the great socialist nation. In return, we are to be happy with a few words of praise or a pat on the arm.”
When Pearl learns she will be a grandmother, I loved this quote, “I have just stepped up a rung on the ladder of my life.” What a beautiful way with words Lisa See has!
You can already tell that I highly recommend this book. If you haven’t read Shanghai Girls, read it first and then run to read Dreams of Joy.
What are you reading and where are you going?