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Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted…

Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter (1997)

by Adeline Yen Mah

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2,372464,180 (3.63)77
The true story of a young Chinese girl who grew up feeling unloved by her father who remarried shortly after her mother's death and treated his new family and subsequent children as upper class compared to his first children.
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A young Chinese girl is despised by most of her family for causing the death of her mother - by being born. She is forced to walk miles and miles to school every day, then sent to a boarding school to get out of her stepmother's hair. From there she manages to earn a scholarship to college, where she becomes a doctor and moves back home under the false impression that she will be wanted after all she'd accomplished. She is persuaded to apprentice at a doter's office and then essentially kicked out of her home. She moves to America, where she marries into an abusive relationship, eventually gets out of it, and seeks to maintain connections with a family that ostracizes and wants little to nothing to do with her. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
memoir of unwanted Chinese Daughter Cruelty to Own Family—

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 Kong to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer.
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  christinejoseph | Jul 31, 2016 |
2.5 stars ...
Adeline's mother dies after giving birth to her, the 5th child. Her father remarries a beautiful, young, half-French woman - the epitome of the wicked stepmother. The verbal and emotional abuse heaped on Adeline and her siblings 9but mostly on her), as reported, is heartbreaking. It's a fascinating story. But ...

I couldn't help but wonder why Adeline didn't wake up and assert herself as she grew to adulthood. Perhaps it's because she is of a different culture than I, but she winds up sounding somewhat "whiny" to me.

The use of Chinese sayings (in chinese characters) was effective at first - but I got tired of this device. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 8, 2016 |
Fascinating and disturbing. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
A memoir of a young Chinese daughter growing and making her way through life while also dealing with an emotionally abusive step mother. Heart wrenching and yet triumphant. The fact that royalties from the book were donated to assist students to study at universities in Beijing and Shanghai, was heartwarming. ( )
  Moakey | Apr 10, 2015 |
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Dedicated to my Aunt Baba, whose unwavering belief in my worth sustained me throughout my tormented childhood. And to my husband, Bob, without whose love this book could not have been written.
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It would not be quite truthful say that we were all together for the first time in nearly forty years.
On the eve of her wedding, Grandmother (@15) was summoned into her father's presence. 'Tomorrow you will belong to the Yen family,' she was told. 'From now on, this is no longer your home and you are not to contact us without permission from your husband. Your duty will be to please him and your in-laws. Bear them many sons. Sublimate your own desires. Become the willing piss-pot and spittoon of the Yens and we will be proud of you.
My mother died two weeks after my birth, with five doctors at her bedside. She was only thirty years old and I have no idea what she looked like. I have never seen her photograph.
Ye Ye's letters to Aunt Baba became more and more despondent. 'All of us clings tenaciously to life,' Ye Ye wrote, 'but there are fates worse than death: loneliness, boredom, insomnia, physical pain. I have worked hard all my life and saved every cent. Now I wonder what it was all about. The agony and fear of dying, surely that is worse than death. In this house where I count for nothing, du ri ru nian (each day passes like a year). Could death really be worse. Tell me, daughter, what is there left for me to look forward to?
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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