The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

By Heather B. Moore

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

By Heather B. Moore

When twenty-six-year-old Donaldina Cameron arrives at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895, she intends to stay for only one year to teach sewing skills to young Chinese women. Within days, she discovers that the job is much more complicated than perfect stitches and even hems. San Francisco has a dark side, one where a powerful underground organization—the criminal tong—buys and sells Chinese girls like common goods. With the help of Chinese interpreters and a local police squad, Donaldina works night and day to stop the abominable slave and prostitution trade.
Mei Lien believes she is sailing to the “Gold Mountain” in America to become the wife of a rich Chinese man. Instead she finds herself sold into prostitution—beaten, starved, and forced into an opium addiction. It is only after a narrow escape that she hears of the mission home and dares to think there might be hope for a new life.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown throws new light on the age-old scourge of human trafficking. The heroes who fought this evil and the victims who triumphed over it more than a hundred years ago offer a bright example of courage and determination for anyone wishing for a better world.

Check out the Reviews!

Review by Melissa Dalton Martinez:
“The Paper Daughters of Chinatown,” by Heather B. Moore

“The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” is a unique historical fiction novel that is based on the true story of the Donaldina (Dolly) Cameron and many Chinese women that were brought to the United States in the 1800s under false pretense is. The author Heather B. Moore did a wonderful job in describing the events of the time, both the good and the bad.

The main character, Dolly Cameron, originally went to Sacramento California to volunteer at a mission home for Chinese women that had been rescued from slavery. She was going to teach sewing there for only a year, but after being there for a short period of time she helped the director of the home rescue a Chinese woman, which was something that changed her forever. As she saw the suffering of the Chinese women and how she could help save them, she decided to make it her life‘s mission to help these women.

In the book, the author gives us a perspective from both Dolly Cameron and from the Chinese women. Even though there are harsh circumstances in this true story, the author handled the situation very respectfully and helped us as the readers to see how someone in a difficult situation could find the strength to overcome major adversity. We also say the difference that love and kindness can make in a person’s life. Dolly Cameron made a lot of sacrifices in her life to stay at the mission home as long as she did, but she was a happy woman. She changed the lives of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Chinese Americans for the better “The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” is an engaging story from beginning to end, and I highly recommend this book for all historical fiction fans.

By: Andrea Moody

“The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” is a historical fiction about Donaldina Cameron, or Dolly as she was best known in her time. The author took the opportunity to research Donaldina Cameron and then took artistic liberties to flesh out history by giving Dolly a reverberating voice outside of what people knew about her and what she wrote as she took notes in her mission.

The story in this book was given more dimension by telling Mei Lien’s story, which represented so many of the girls’ or womens’ experiences who were rescued from slavery in San Francisco. What was refreshing about the novel was that even though the subject of slavery is tragic, the author gave respect and grace to the women who overcame so much by making sure the novel did not exploit the stories graphically.

A weakness in the story was the sub-story about Dolly and Charles Bazatas. Even though the sub-story was meant to show what Dolly was sacrificing as a woman who gave up marriage for the greater good, the romance seemed contrived and forced, but then again, it is a part of Dolly Cameron’s true story. The rest of the book was a revelation in sacrifice, endurance, fortitude, hope, and forgiveness.