In the tradition of The Diary of Anne Frank, Greenway demonstrates that not even the most difficult situations can quell the yearnings of young adolescents. Not familial discord. Not the strange surroundings of expatriate life in China. Not political upheaval or the Vietnam War, replete with exploding bombs and bodies floating in nearby waters.
This eloquent debut novel takes place in 1967 in Hong Kong, where two teenage sisters -- Kate, the sensitive and cautious narrator, and Frankie, her older, more daring sister -- explore all that is sensual and chaotic in the foreign world they inhabit. Ah Bing, their Chinese nanny, hates men and calls the two girls houh hau (whores) when they disobey. Their mother has lost control over them and fears that her husband, an intrepid photojournalist covering the American war in Vietnam, will not return.
But their world is also one of astonishing beauty, which Greenway describes in sheer poetry. A deaf boy watches Kate and brings her a purple sea snail as a love offering; Frankie and Kate, the gwaimui (little white ghosts), compete for love and share secrets, risking everything in the process. A heartbreaking account of love and loss, of memory and homesickness, of war and devastation, White Ghost Girls is an unforgettable story told in bold and graceful prose. (Spring 2006 Selection)