A 2010 book by Lisa See.
In 1937, Shanghai
is the Paris of Asia, full of great wealth and glamour, home to millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May are having the time of their lives, thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father's prosperous rickshaw business. Both are beautiful, modern, and living the carefree life... until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth, and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles
to find Chinese brides.
Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the villages of south China and across the Pacific to the foreign shores of America. In Los Angeles, they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with their stranger husbands, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life, even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown's old ways and rules. A sequel, Dreams of Joy
, was published in 2011 about Joy's travel to China.
Tropes in this story include:
- Arranged Marriage: Pearl and May with Old Man Louie's sons, Sam and Vern.
- Break the Cutie: Pearl gets brutally gang-raped by Japanese soldiers.
- Citizenship Marriage: In a way. Pearl, May and their mother had planned to get to Hong Kong and live with their father's family, but after being attacked by Japanese soldiers they decide to go to America and live with their husbands.
- Culture Clash:
- Joy with Pearl and Sam as she gets older.
- When Pearl and May first come to America.
- Driven to Suicide: Sam.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: A variant from the usual; May's illegitimate child Joy is raised as her sister Pearl's child, since even though May was married when she got pregnant, she never had sex with her husband.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Pearl as the smart one and May as the beautiful one. This is exacerbated by the fact that Pearl is raising May's child as her own, and they disagree over how to raise her.
- The Illegal: Sam and most of the other sons are not really Old Man Louie's sons. He is a "paper son", or a person brought over to America on a false birth certificate.
- An Immigrant's Tale
- My Secret Pregnancy: May gets pregnant. Pearl finds out while they are at Angel Island waiting to be let in to America.
- Second Sino Japanese War: The story starts during that time period.
- Sibling Triangle: Both Pearl and May want Z.G. May gets Z.G., because Joy is his child, but in the sequel Pearl and Z.G. hook up.
- Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism: Joy is raised as Pearl's baby.
- Tell Me About My Father: Joy, when she finds out the truth about herself.
- Truth in Television: The "paper sons" phenomenon. Families would either have a baby that died or they would say that a baby died and ask for a birth certificate, move to America, and wait 20 years and sell it to someone who wanted to get to America but for some reason couldn't come legally.
Tropes in Dreams of Joy: