World War II, Japanese American, Internment, 442 Regiment, Nisei, Okinawa
Robert and Gail Kaku are Sansei—third generation Japanese Americans—with personal connections to this story. Robert’s father was incarcerated at Santa Anita, California and Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Gail’s father was incarcerated at Turlock, California, Gila River, Arizona, and Tule Lake, California. Both mothers lived in wartime Japan.
Robert is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and works as an information technology manager at a health care company. His hobbies include golf, alpine skiing, and traveling. Gail is a graduate of the University of Southern California and also has a background in information technology. She enjoys traveling, skiing, and being at the beach. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
An intelligent girl born into a Poor-Class family in a small village in rural China, she is, because of the Maoist policy towards such families, able to pursue her dream of going to university. To her surprise, urban snobbery and “student thought-spying” at university make it essential for her to hide her real thoughts. Such self-protection becomes especially necessary once her idealistic boyfriend Dan — a secret boyfriend because young people were forbidden to be romantically involved — is sent to a labour camp for his outspoken ways.
In her village, she learns that everything has value except the lives of girls and women. One of her childhood friends, a landowner’s daughter who because of her family’s Landlord Class, is not allowed to go to university drowns herself when forced to face an arranged marriage. Hua-Hua, a shy and gentle neighbour, hangs herself after her husband beats her brutally for not bearing him a son.
May-ping manages to survive the Cultural Revolution as a member of the Communist party who feels outside the system and keeps her inner self intact. Her story reveals how political change during the Maoist regime left its mark on ordinary people.
Employing stories within stories, the narrator carries the reader to a mythological realm to images of the resilient water lilies and the nurturing lily pond.
Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by colleague and former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades.
In Shanghai, excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewelry dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewelry, identifed as having belonged to one such refugee - Rosalie Gilder - was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels.
However, Lydia soon learns that there is much more to the story than they've been told: The Shanghai Moon, one of the world's most sought after missing jewels, reputed to be worth millions, is believed to have been part of the same stash. Before Lydia can act on this new information, Joel Pilarsky is murdered, Lydia is fired from the case, and Bill Smith finally reappears on the scene. Now Lydia and Bill must unravel the truth about the Shanghai Moon and the events that surrounded its disappearance sixty years ago during the chaos of war and revolution, if they are to stop more killings and uncover the truth of what is going on today.
Li Jing, a successful, happily married businessman, is dining at a grand hotel in Shanghai when a gas explosion shatters the building. A shard of glass neatly pierces Li Jing's forehead—obliterating his ability to speak Chinese. The only words that emerge from his mouth are faltering phrases of the English he spoke as a child growing up in Virginia. Suddenly Li Jing finds himself unable to communicate with his wife, Meiling, whom he once courted with beautiful words, as she struggles to keep his business afloat and maintain a brave face for their son. The family turns to an American neurologist, Rosalyn Neal, who is as lost as Li Jing--whom she calls James--in this bewitching, bewildering city, where the two form a bond that Meiling does not need a translator to understand.