Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore


Based on true events, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown in a powerful story about a largely unknown chapter in history and the women who emerged as heroes.

In the late nineteenth century, San Francisco is a booming city with a dark side, one in which a powerful underground organization—the criminal tong—buys and sells young Chinese women into prostitution and slavery. These “paper daughters,” so called because fake documents gain them entry to America but leave them without legal identity, generally have no recourse. But the Occidental Mission Home for Girls is one bright spot of hope and help.

Told in alternating chapters, this rich narrative follows the stories of young Donaldina Cameron who works in the mission home, and Mei Lien, a “paper daughter” who thinks she is coming to America for an arranged marriage but instead is sold into a life of shame and despair.

Donaldina, a real-life pioneering advocate for social justice, bravely stands up to corrupt officials and violent gangs, helping to win freedom for thousands of Chinese women. Mei Lien endures heartbreak and betrayal in her search for hope, belonging, and love. Their stories merge in this gripping account of the courage and determination that helped shape a new course of women’s history in America.

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Wow.  If there is anyone out there that doesn't believe that books have the power to change you, they should read this book.  I finished this book enlightened, in awe and also sad.  I feel changed because I now know more.  I'm a girl that loves fluffy romances and entertainment but I also love learning about events in time and people who made a difference.  Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine and Heather B. Moore is a master crafter, in my opinion.  Her intense research shows as she brings this story to life.

This book is based on Donaldina Cameron who devoted her whole life to saving and caring for the young Chinese girls, stolen and exploited, in San Francisco.  Donaldina (Dolly) started out thinking she would give the position at the mission home one year but that year turned into a lifetime.  Her heart was so invested in saving girls sold into slavery and prostitution.  I am honestly in awe of Dolly and the many people like her, who are so courageous and devoted.  It inspires me to be better and do better.

This book isn't light reading.  It is full of heart wrenching situations and brutal atrocities to young, innocent girls.  I thought the author did a good job of balancing knowledge with details.  She kept things tasteful given the subject matter while still allowing me, as a reader to understand and feel the magnitude of the situations.

While difficult, I am so glad I read this book.  I can't stop thinking about it.  This story is impactful and enlightening.  What I know is that we, as human kind, need to take better care of each other and protect the innocent and helpless.  Awareness is the first step to change.

Content:  abuse in all forms, prostitution is frequently mentioned but no graphic details.  Violence.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.


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