BookBrowse Reviews China Dolls by Lisa See

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China Dolls

by Lisa See

China Dolls
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2014, 400 pages
    Mar 2015, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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About this Book



This sparkling wartime saga follows three girlfriends who meet in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1938.

"Only three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." This quotation, attributed to the Buddha, is the epigraph to Lisa See's China Dolls and gives a hint of the novel's tripartite structure: its three chronological sections are built through the alternating first-person narration of three Asian-American women. It also introduces a key thematic element of the book: searching for the truth amid lies and betrayal.

In October 1938, nineteen-year-old Grace Lee gets off a bus in San Francisco, having traveled halfway across the country from Plain City, Ohio. She looks for work at the Golden Gate International Exposition, but is told that – as an American-born Chinese – she is neither "American" nor "Chinese" enough to qualify as a dancer in their shows. "You need to do the ching-chong thing," one employer demands. But having escaped her father&#...

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Beyond the Book:
  San Francisco's Chinatown

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