Reviews for China Dolls

by Lisa See

Publishers Weekly
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In the beginning of See's (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) stellar ninth book, three young women, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, meet and form an unlikely but strong bond in San Francisco in 1938, as the Golden Gate International Exhibition is about to open. Grace has run from an abusive father in the Midwest; Helen is trapped by her traditional family in Chinatown after a devastating loss; Ruby is Japanese, desperate to pass as Chinese to stay employed as the U.S. moves closer to war with Japan. They become performers at the Forbidden City Nightclub and face the difficulty of being Asian in an Occidental world, as well as the additional conflict of prejudice within their own community. The novel spans 50 years, following the women's tumultuous personal lives and roller-coaster career choices. Yet somehow the three always find a way back to each other, and come through for each other in the darkest of times. The story alternates between their viewpoints, with each woman's voice strong and dynamic, developing a multilayered richness as it progresses. The depth of See's characters and her winning prose makes this book a wonderful journey through love and loss. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The Chinese American nightclub era comes to life in See's (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) latest novel, which revolves around three young women coming of age in San Francisco during World War II. Grace, Helen, and Ruby meet and become instant friends while auditioning as showgirls at the Forbidden City, a Chinese nightclub and cabaret. But then the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor happens, and everything changes. The girls soon discover that they each carry secrets that will shake one another to the core. As the world slips further into war and tensions regarding Asian Americans rise, each woman's livelihood, heart, and strength will be tested. Can the seductive Ruby, dutiful Helen, and "white-washed" Grace find a way to keep their friendship alive? -VERDICT While this novel is definitely slower paced than the author's prior works, See's many fans will still enjoy watching each protagonist's true story unfold; they will also be intrigued by the vivacity of the "Chop Suey Circuit." These colorful and fascinating historical touches tie the story together perfectly and form an exquisite backdrop for the adventures of the three friends. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]-Chelsie Harris, San Diego Cty. Lib. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.