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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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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 |
Memoir of a Chinese woman unwanted and reviled by her stepmother, whose affection Adeline nevertheless sought for her entire life. ( )
  phyllis.shepherd | Jan 11, 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767903579, Paperback)

Snow White's stepmother looks like a pussycat compared to the monster under which Adeline Yen Mah suffered. The author's memoir of life in mainland China and--after the 1949 revolution--Hong Kong is a gruesome chronicle of nonstop emotional abuse from her wealthy father and his beautiful, cruel second wife. Chinese proverbs scattered throughout the text pithily covey the traditional world view that prompted Adeline's subservience. Had she not escaped to America, where she experienced a fulfilling medical career and a happy marriage, her story would be unbearable; instead, it's grimly fascinating: Falling Leaves is an Asian Mommie Dearest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

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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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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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