When the final chapter in a novel closes, that isn’t always the final chapter for the characters within. Their stories are so resonant with readers that authors can’t help but return to them.
Shanghai Girls, Lisa See’s 2009 novel, followed sisters Pearl and May in a journey from the elite social circles of the Paris of Asia to being sold into marriage to repay their father’s gambling debts. War made their trek to Los Angeles even more dangerous in 1937, with bombs falling even while long-held family secrets explode between them.
Twenty years later, the secrets of that journey are still taking their toll, this time on Pearl’s daughter, Joy. Angry with her mother and aunt, Joy runs away to Shanghai to seek her birth father. What she finds, however, is yet another torrent of politics the dangers of which Joy isn’t even aware of. The New Society of Red China draws the idealistic 19-year-old in, taking teenage rebellion to the extreme.
Terrified for her daughter, Pearl follows the trail through bustling cities and rural villages, finding her own history waiting for her as she travels back through China once more. Theirs paths begin to converge, but the path of history continues to collide with the girls of Shanghai. Will China’s tragedy also be their own?
See will be at BookPeople tonight at 7 pm to speak and sign copies of Dreams of Joy. Swirling with a vibrant historical setting, the central focus of mother and daughter is something that translates seamlessly to modern-day Austin.