Pearl and May are sisters growing up in China right before the Japanese invasion in the late '30's. They live a very exclusive lifestyle with lots of freedom and not much responsibility, until their father sells them in marriage to pay off his gambling debts. To make matters worse, their new family is fleeing China for the safety of America. After a failed attempt to escape, the girls end up making their way to Los Angeles.
Shanghai Girls is filled with information about China during its tumultuous civil war and then portrays life in America as an illegal Chinese immigrant. Although I did find these facts interesting, I didn't love this book. I never did really like any of the characters, which left me not really caring about what happened to them. And I guess that ended up being a bonus for me, since the end of the story comes in a sequel! So I guess I'll never know the rest of the story.
If you like Amy Tan, you may also like Lisa See, however if you only read one, go for Tan.