Kept you hanging about Shanghai Girls, didn't I? Sorry, life interrupted.
Verdict: Book discussion groups will definitely love Shanghai Girls because it is packed with oodles of atmosphere, interesting characters, historical facts, and a climax groups will want to tear apart or tear up over, depending. The story line progresses from one continent to another, addresses issues of assimilation and discrimination, and takes place during a time of tumultuous cultural and historical upheaval. The ending also screams "sequel," so Lisa See lovers may find the "girls" marching forward into new Sino-American scenarios in a possible follow-up book.
My personal feeling is that the author's material was more than adequate for five books, but too much for this one book. Lisa See introduced many fascinating angles that could have been explored more deeply, and the early section set in Shanghai would have made a great story by itself. I finally reconciled myself to the fact that the author tends to overwhelm her books with her thoroughly researched details, and yet they don't always inform us. In the early Shanghai part, for instance, she mentions that the girls practically stepped over dead bodies which seemed to have been brought to the curb like garbage. What's with that? There are other little quibbles, too, but I will graciously admit that Shanghai Girls kept me interested until the very end. It is not a book I would want to leave half-finished.