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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: China Dolls

Three Chinese girls meet on the streets of San Francisco and immediately link themselves together for the next ten years.  They have little in common other than their desire to escape their current lives and the hole that is missing from never having real friends.  Grace, a wide-eyed innocent, has left her small, Midwestern town to escape an abusive father and to pursue her love of dance.  Helen does not know what she wants other than to experience life outside her "proper" Chinese family and their restrictive compound in the bubble of Chinatown.  Ruby wants fame, plain and simple.  They spend the next decade performing at "Oriental" clubs in San Francisco and around the Chop Suey Circuit, where their bond is often tested.

Always a fan of Lisa See's work, I was captivated by her portrayal of Chinese performers in America during World War II.  At the heart of it, however, is a study of female friendship and how it bends around jealousies, secrets, and prejudice.  

4 out of 5 stars.

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