Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
Rich in atmosphere and period details, Lisa See has reanimated pre-WWII San Francisco in the pages of this book, especially its nightlife, entertainment community, and Chinatown. Three determined, hard working, fun loving young women working as chorus line dancers narrate the story, and though they are best friends and all Asian in heritage their backgrounds are very different and they each have several layers of heart-rending secrets that are only gradually revealed.
When China Dolls opens in 1938, Grace is bruised, beaten, and on the run, escaping by bus from a small Ohio town where the only Chinese people are her own family, and headed for San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition where she hopes to find work as a dancer. Naive and still very young, Grace soon meets reserved Helen, who grew up steeped in the culture of Chinatown, and wild Ruby who’s from Hawaii. They become fast friends, sharing meals, apartments, and nights on the town while encouraging and supporting each other’s ambitions.
Fluctuating fortunes, clashing romantic interests, and the withheld secrets create tensions that at times turn the devoted pals into temporary frenemies. Their lives shift abruptly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, especially Ruby’s since her family still lives on those islands. The three narrators worked for me--I enjoyed delving into their different life stories and having their varied perspectives. Lisa See made me care about and sometimes ache for each of them, even when they behave badly toward each other.
I'm not sure why no image is yet available for this book here on BookLikes, even LeafMarks has it in its database and the cover is lovely, as you can see: