The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

Shadow Mountain. Sept. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781629727820. $26.99. F
Donaldina “Dolly” Cameron is just 26 when she comes to work at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895 San Francisco. She is quickly moved by the plight of the Chinese girls she meets there. Called “paper daughters” because of the falsified paperwork their abusers filed to get them into the country, they were trapped in lives of sexual slavery before coming to the mission. Dolly develops a mother-daughter relationship with her charges and soon knows she has found her life’s calling, Prolific author Moore (Lady of Breken Manor) tells the story of a real-life crusader who, strongly motivated by her Christian faith, fought fiercely on behalf of her “daughters” even when doing so placed her own life in danger.
VERDICT Some readers may be disappointed that the Chinese characters in the novel are not nearly as well developed as Dolly is and that the mission’s insistence that they give up their own culture to convert to Christianity is not questioned. However, many readers will find Dolly’s bravery and commitment to her faith inspirational, and Moore’s impressively detailed research makes this a good introduction to this often neglected chapter in American history.

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