Author: Kristy Manning
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Jessica Higgins
A brilliant piece of literary work that showcases the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during World War II.
Romy and her family are Jews living in Vienna during the 1930s. On the night of Kristallnacht, her family realizes that they must flee the country to save their lives, but only she and her parents are able to secure passage on a ship from Italy to Shanghai, known as Paris of the East. Upon arrival, Romy quickly realizes that Shanghai is very different from anywhere she has ever been. It is overcrowded with people and separated into many different sections including French, British, and Japanese. She soon meets another young woman here age named Li Ho. They form a strong friendship over the next two years, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese occupy Shanghai and begin to rid the area of any anti-Japanese sentiment. Will this friendship stand the test of a war-torn country?
Jumping ahead several years to 2016, Alexandra Cohen is a very successful commodities trader in London. But after a bad breakup and learning her grandfather is dying, she quickly returns to Melbourne, Australia. Alexandra has always been different being part Chinese but has never really known the true story of her birth mother. Her parents died when she was young, and her grandparents always change the subject when she brings it up. After her grandfather passes, Alexandra receives an opportunity to work in Shanghai. She takes it with hopes that maybe she can finally uncover the truth about the adoption of her mother and find her true family.
This has been a great year for historical novels that uncover rarely known facts about World War II. This book was no exception as I had little knowledge of Jewish refugees living in Shanghai. I thoroughly appreciated all the research that the author put into this book to bring this era of history to light and how she weaved it into such an intricate story. The character development of Alexandra throughout the book was fantastic as well. She grew from being insecure into someone who can seize the moment and get what she wants from life. There is some very raw emotion throughout the book. There were parts that brought me to tears because of what Romy experienced. I imagine other readers will feel the same way.
This book really focuses on the power of secrets and the damage that they can do to a family over time. However, there is also a theme of redemption in the later part of the book. I enjoyed that the author shared that even when families have secrets, they are not as secret as one might think.
There is very little foul language in the book; however, there are some implied sex scenes that will not be appropriate for younger readers. I recommend this book for readers who love time slip novels exploring World War II and for people who just need a good story!
I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.