It’s San Francisco 1938: “A world’s fair is preparing to open, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities.” (cover blurb) Grace, Helen, and Ruby, all from varied backgrounds, meet as dancers in the Forbidden City nightclub. Through challenges and shifting fortunes, their friendship is tested. “When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams.” (cover blurb)
China Dolls by Lisa See shows a world of wealth, poverty, and prejudice. San Francisco’s hills are alive with love and luck, or after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the atmosphere shifts to one of suspicion and fear of Asians. Our young heroines, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, must overcome paranoia and work together. They all learn about friendship and life.
Lisa See writes a lively tale with endearing characters. These girls have family scars, but gumption in a changing world. For Grace on her bus trip from Ohio, “each new state I passed through loosened another rope around my heart, my legs, my arms, yet my whole body ached, and I couldn’t shake my vertigo.”(p.3) Helen must break free from an overprotective family and risk bringing them dishonor. Ruby is a free spirit that hides deep secrets. These China Dolls are fragile, and yet up to the task.