Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter
4 journalers for this copy...
Born in 1937 in a port city a thousand miles north of Shanghai, Adeline Yen Mah was the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family who enjoyed rare privileges during a time of political and cultural upheaval. But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative Eurasian stepmother. Determined to survive through her enduring faith in family unity, Adeline struggled for independence as she moved from Hong King to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer.
A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl's journey into adulthood, Adeline's story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding.
Picked up at a used bookstore in Madison. This book was mentioned in Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate, so now I'm interested in reading it.
I've offered this up in a Non Fiction Swap.
Adeline's stepmother or Niang was extemely domineering and high maintenance. Her natural children and particularly her son were first in her favour. Any of the children not bowing to her wishes were castigated. Adeline was sent to boarding school with instructions that the rest of the family were not to contact her.
Adeline spent her whole life trying to win approval from her father and suffering emotional abuse from her step-mother. Her grandfather Ye-Ye and her Aunt Baba were loving towards her and helped her greatly.
Adeline lived in China, emigrated to England to get a M.D. and finally settled in the US.
This story is somewhat of a Cinderella story and although the story is one that tugs at the heartstrings, the history of China in the 20th century is even more fascinating. I know little about the history of China and find myself wanting to know more.
All Adeline wants is to be loved by her father. She puts her focus into schooling and gets all A's. While this seems to please her father, he still doesn't give her much attention. Niang makes this as difficult for Adeline as possible, but at the end this is a Cinderella story.
You can't help but despise how Niang treats her children and step-children. There's no reason to treat anyone like this, with all the outright hatred and emotional mind games. I was so happy for Adeline that she got away and created her own life for herself, though she kept getting sucked back into her family drama.
This book was so captivating that I couldn't put it down. I wanted to make sure that Adeline ended up alright. I also really enjoyed the Chinese sayings that were scattered throughout the novel, including the one used for the title: Falling leaves always return to their roots.
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