Lisa See has really outdone herself with this one. I’m not at sure if she shouldn’t just put up her pen and call it a day…..this book was just so wonderful! I seriously wonder how she can ever top it….Most people if asked what this book was about would automatic reply with it’s about some Chinese and Japanese girls in San Francisco at the time leading up to, during and after WWII….But it’s not. To me, that’s the whole point. This is a story about 3 Americans from Chinese and Japanese descent. These ladies are every bit as American as any one else born and raised in the USA. Although your ancestry might help shape you, it does not define you. This is also the story of how people are judged and sometimes defined by their looks. This is the story of a great friendship. One that is true to life….but only if we are lucky. Yes, perhaps there will be parts that make you mad and wonder how anyone could call someone like that a friend, but this book broke my heart. It made me….no….it DEMANDED that I set my judgements aside….to leave them at the door and try to view the situation from someone else’s eyes. It made me seriously try to put myself in that time period. To imagine what it was like around me. The paranoia. The resentment. The sense of survival. Trying to maintain trust whilst everyone around you is pointing fingers. It reminds me that for some, trying to make peace with what you know, what is expected of you, what you want, and your own past…well, sometimes these things will never be reconciled. Sometimes the battles we fight in silence, within ourselves….well they are the bravest….and often the ones that are never celebrated.
When will any of us be judged solely on their own merits? By only their own actions? I know that’s a Pollyanna view and an unrealistic desire….but why? Why must we judge on the colour of skin? On our family? On our ancestors? On our Country? On all of the very things that we are powerless to change? Yet, the things within our power….those are the last things to come to be judged by…..
Yes, I won’t say that parts of this book didn’t just break my heart. That it didn’t depress me. It did. However, these characters were so rich to me. I fell in love with so many of them. I understood so many of them. I admired so many of them. I could sympathize with so many of them….even the ones I was angry with. By the way Lisa See presented them to me, well, even though I knew they were unyielding in their actions, even though I was angry and upset by this….I understood why they were that way….even if I didn’t agree or like it. However, the main characters of this book….wow…just wow….I can’t imagine going through what any one of them endured. Let alone coming out like they did. The courage they displayed. At their tenaciousness. How easy would it have been for any one of them to just throw in the towel and to despair at life. How easy it would be to just look at the actions of others and to toss them aside and never give them another thought….instead of looking at only actions, each one found it within themselves to try to understand the reason for the actions…Some would argue that this makes them too soft-hearted and gullible. I disagree. It is, in fact, much harder to set aside our own feelings and try to understand another’s…..
We should all be so lucky to have people around us like this….
No one ever does something without a reason…..nothing ever happens just “out of the blue”. Our past does define our future…..This doesn’t forgive anyone of any wrong doing…..but if we are to be judged by circumstances that are completely out of our control, shouldn’t we at least be forgiven for those within our control that we try to set right?
Read this book. Please. But leave your preconceived ideas of “china dolls” at the door. For me, this was not a novel about some night club dancers. That couldn’t be further from the truth….
I realise that my review might not convey how much I loved this book….
Let me set the record straight….right here….right now….
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book…..I already miss Grace, Ruby, Helen and Eddie…..because they are no longer in my current read, I will gladly just keep them in my heart and hope they continue to encourage me to look deeper….
Until next time….
Buy it now China Dolls by Lisa See