Tuesday, December 11, 2018

PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim

PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim Mei Ling is the younger daughter in a newly impoverished family. When her sister is betrothed to a complete stranger, Mei is happy it is not her and unhappy to see her sister leving China for the United States. Very quickly, everything changes when Mei Ling’s sister becomes ill and Mei Ling is forced to impersonate her sister and marry the stranger. Well written and researched, this novel tells of “wives,” “daughters,” “sons and cousins” paid for and brought to the US as “paper relatives” in the early 1920’s. It has become impossible to emigrate to the US and China is suffering greatly. This subterfuge to bring impoverished Chinese to the US often results in prostitution and servitude. Mei Lings fears are not unfounded. Ibrahim has written an engrossing tale of one such “paper wife.” Her characters are clearly drawn, the sights, smells and inhabitants of San Francisco’s Chinatown are related in intimate detail. A mesmerizing tale that book groups will love. 5 of 5 stars

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