Dreams of Joy
by See, Lisa






A continuation of the story that began in Shanghai Girls finds a devastated Joy fleeing to China to search for her real father while her mother, Pearl, desperately pursues her, a dual quest marked by their encounters with the nation's intolerant Communist culture. By the Edgar Award-nominated author of Flower Net.





Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Shanghai Girls, Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.





See continues the irresistible saga of May, Pearl, and Pearl's daughter, Joy, in a novel set in the immediate aftermath of the emotional events that brought her immensely popular Shanghai Girls (2009) to a fevered conclusion. Reeling with the revelation of her mother's true identity and burdened with the belief that she alone caused her father's suicide, Joy hastily flees Hollywood via a one-way ticket to the People's Republic of China. There she plans to search for her biological father and "beautiful girl" artist Li Zhi-ge, and immerse herself in the communist lifestyle, the rhetoric of which she embraced as a college student. Once she discovers what Joy has done, Pearl travels back to Shanghai at great personal risk to try and locate her daughter and convince her to return home. Both women find a nation in the throes of Chairman Mao's "Great Leap Forward" campaign, and immediately are catapulted into lives of unspeakable deprivation and gut-wrenching horror. Through the sobering experiences of a naive young girl and the sacrificial actions of her mother, See paints a vivid, haunting, and often graphic portrait of a country, and family, in crisis. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The eagerly awaited sequel to the reading-group favorite Shanghai Girls is supported by intensive marketing efforts. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.





Today they would be called fashion models. But in early-twentieth-century China, sisters Pearl and May were known quaintly as "beautiful girls," whose sophisticated cover-girl imagesset the standard for young Chinese women and exemplified the hopes of an ancient nationcatapulted into anxious modernity as it balancedon the brink of war. Paradoxically, Pearl and May were also the products of a traditional upbringing in which their father controlled their destiny, selling them into marriage to Chinese men from America tosettle gambling debts to a depraved Shanghai mobster. The tortuous route they take to first avoid, then accept, and finally embrace their abrupt fall from grace is rife with the most heinous tragedies-rape and murder, betrayal and abandonment, poverty and servitude. Through it all,one thing ensures their survival: the sisters are tenaciously devoted to each other, though time and events will strain this loyalty nearly to the point of destruction. Examining the chains of friendship within the confines of family, See s kaleidoscopic saga transits from the barbaric horrors of Japanese occupation to the sobering indignities suffered by foreigners in 1930s Hollywood while offering a buoyant and lustrous paean to thebonds of sisterhood. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.





In this sequel to See's bestselling Shanghai Girls (2009, etc.), a daughter's flight leads to further family upheavals against the backdrop of Mao Tse-Tung's Great Leap Forward.

Twenty years have passed since Pearl and May Chin left war-torn Shanghai for California, to fulfill the marriage contracts their bankrupt gambler father had arranged. Now, Pearl's daughter Joy has impulsively immigrated to China to seek her birth father Z.G., who once painted the youthful Pearl and May for "Beautiful Girl" advertisements. Z.G. is not hard to locate-he is now the New Society's highest-ranking propaganda artist. But he has fallen into disfavor and is being sent to a peasant commune, Green Dragon Village, to reform his bourgeois aesthetic. Joy accompanies him to Green Dragon, excited at the prospect of living the communist ideals that so enthralled her as a University of Chicago student. For a while, the system works: Women are liberated from household drudgery, childcare and cooking (meals are provided by a canteen), crops are plentiful and people are being encouraged to have large families to augment the workforce. Z.G. returns to Shanghai, but Joy, who has married local peasant Tao, remains behind (she'll regret her marriage immediately after a wedding night spent in a crowded, two-room shack). However, soon the Great Leap Forward, thanks to several wrongheaded strategies (among them, plowing broken glass into the fields, overplanting wheat and a war on sparrows which wreaks environmental havoc), leads to nationwide famine. The once tranquil commune is now riven by strife. Under the rule of a corrupt party official who keeps all the food for himself, starving villagers resort to mob violence and cannibalism. Meanwhile, Pearl has arrived in Shanghai and is living in uneasy community with her father's former tenants and working as a street sweeper while she plots to rescue Joy and her new granddaughter.

Although the ending betrays See's roots in genre fiction, this is a riveting, meticulously researched depiction of one of the world's worst human-engineered catastrophes.

 

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.





Two sisters escape war-ravaged Shanghai, only to face discrimination and the threat of deportation in the United States.See's latest fictional exploration of the lives of Chinese women (Peony in Love, 2007, etc.) begins in 1937 Shanghai, a cosmopolitan city under imminent threat of Japanese invasion. As oblivious to rumors of their beloved city's collapse as they are to their family's circumstances, Pearl Chin and her younger sister May continue to shop, frequent nightclubs and pose for illustrator Z.G.'s advertising calendars featuring "Beautiful Girls." However, Papa Chin, having lost his fortune to gambling debts, has sold his daughters into marriage to Sam and Vern, sons of Chinese-American entrepreneur Old Man Louie. After hasty weddings (only Pearl's union, with Sam, is consummated), the brides refuse to accompany their husbands to California. When Shanghai is bombed and Papa abruptly disappears, the women and their mother join the stream of refugees fleeing the Japanese on foot. Along the way, Pearl and her mother are brutally raped by Japanese soldiers, while May hides. Their mother does not survive, but the Chins reach Hong Kong and embark for the United States, having decided, in desperation, to join their husbands. At San Francisco's notorious Angel Island immigrant-internment center, May, pregnant by a boyfriend, prolongs the sisters' already extended quarantine until she is able to give birth in secrecy. Pearl claims May's daughter Joy as her own and Sam's. Once reunited with their spouses in L.A.'s Chinese district, the former Shanghai princesses must acclimatize themselves to a life of drudgery, toiling in the Louie family's curio shops and restaurants. Despite engrossing complications involving immigration issues and the impact of the '50s Red Scare on Chinese-Americans, the Chinatown section, spanning 20 years, seems overlong. The final chapters, however, wherein Z.G.'s Beautiful Girl artwork resurfaces as Maoist propaganda and the FBI stalks the family, are worth the wait.The close suggests See's next setting may be the People's Republic, a development sure to please her readership. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.





THE WAIL OF a police siren in the distance tears through my body. Crickets whir in a never- ending chorus of blame. My aunt whimpers in her twin bed at the other end of the screened porch we share- a reminder of the misery and embarrassment from the secrets she and my mother threw at each other during their argument tonight. I try to listen for my mother in her room, but she's too far away. That silence is painful. My hands grab the bedsheets, and I struggle to focus on an old crack in the ceiling. I'm desperately attempting to hang on, but I've been on a precipice since my father's death, and now I feel as though I've been pushed over the edge and am falling.

Everything I thought I knew about my birth, my parents, my grandparents, and who I am has been a lie. A big fat lie. The woman I thought was my mother is my aunt. My aunt is actually my mother. The man I loved as my father was not related to me at all. My real father is an artist in Shanghai whom both my mother and aunt have loved since before I was born. And that's only the tip of the iceberg- as Auntie May might say. But I was born in the Year of the Tiger, so before the gnawing blackness of guilt about my dad's death and the anguish I feel about these revelations overpower me, I grip the sheets tighter, set my jaw, and try to force my emotions to cower and shrink before my Tiger ferocity. It doesn't work.

I wish I could talk to my friend Hazel, but it's the middle of the night. I wish even more that I could be back at the University of Chicago, because my boyfriend, Joe, would understand what I'm going through. I know he would.

It's two in the morning by the time my aunt drifts off to sleep and the house seems quiet. I get up and go to the hall, where my clothes are kept in a linen closet. Now I can hear my mother weeping, and it's heartbreaking. She can't imagine what I'm about to do, but even if she did, would she stop me? I'm not her daughter.

Why should she stop me? I quickly pack a bag. I'll need money for where I'm going, and the only place I know to get it will bring me more disgrace and shame. I hurry to the kitchen, look under the sink, and pull out the coffee can that holds my mother's savings to put me through college. This money represents all her hopes and dreams for me, but I'm not that person anymore. She's always been cautious, and for once I'm grateful. Her fear of banks and Americans will fund my escape.

I look for paper and a pencil, sit down at the kitchen table, and scrawl a note.

Mom, I don't know who I am anymore. I don't understand this country anymore.

I hate that it killed Dad. I know you'll think I'm confused and foolish. Maybe I am, but I have to find answers. Maybe China is my real home . . .

I go on to write that I mean to find my real father and that she shouldn't worry about me. I fold the paper and take it to the porch. Auntie May doesn't stir when I put the note on my pillow. At the front door, I hesitate. My invalid uncle is in his bedroom at the back of the house. He's never done anything to me. I should tell him good- bye, but I know what he'll say. "Communists are no good. They'll kill you."

I don't need to hear that, and I don't want him to alert my mother and aunt that I'm leaving.

I pick up my suitcase and step into the night. At the corner, I turn down Alpine Street, and head for Union Station. It's August 23, 1957, and I want to memorize everything because I doubt I'll ever see Los Angeles Chinatown again. I used to love to stroll these streets, and I know them better than anyplace else in the world. Here, I know everyone and everyone knows me. The houses- almost all of them clapboard bungalows- have been what I call Chinafied, with bamboo planted in the gardens, pots with miniature kumquat trees sitting on porches, and wooden planks laid on the ground on which to spread leftover rice for birds. I look at it all differently now. Nine months at college- and the events of tonight- will do that. I learned and did so much at the University of Chicago during my freshman year. I met Joe and joined the Chinese Students Democratic Christian Association. I learned all about the People's Republic of China and what Chairman Mao is doing for the country, all of which contradicts everything my family believes. So when I came home in June, what did I do? I criticized my father for seeming as if he were fresh off the boat, for the greasy food he cooked in his caf, and for the dumb TV shows he liked to watch
.
These memories trigger a dialogue in my head that I've been having since his death. Why didn't I see what my parents were going through? I didn't know that my father was a paper son and that he'd come to this country illegally. If I'd known, I never would have begged my dad to confess to the FBI- as if he didn't have anything to hide. My mother holds Auntie May responsible for what happened, but she's wrong. Even Auntie May thinks it was her fault. "When the FBI agent came to Chinatown," she confessed to me on the porch only a few hours ago, "I talked to him about Sam." But Agent Sanders never really cared about my dad's legal status, because the first thing he asked about was me.

And then the loop of guilt and sorrow tightens even more. How could I have known that the FBI considered the group I joined a front for Communist activities?

We picketed stores that wouldn't allow Negroes to work or sit at the lunch counter.

We talked about how the United States had interned American citizens of Japanese descent during the war. How could those things make me a Communist? But they did in the eyes of the FBI, which is why that awful agent told my dad he'd be cleared if he ratted out anyone he thought was a Communist or a Communist sympathizer.

If I hadn't joined the Chinese Students Democratic Christian Association, the FBI couldn't have used that to push my father to name others- specifically me. My dad never would have turned me in, leaving him only one choice. As long as I live I will never forget the sight of my mother holding my father's legs in a hopeless attempt to take his weight off the rope around his neck, and I will never ever forgive myself for my role in his suicide.






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