A Chinese proverb says, “Falling leaves return to their roots.” In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to paint an authentic portrait of twentieth-century China, as well as to tell the story of her painful childhood and her courage and ultimate triumph over despair.
After her mother dies giving birth to her, Adeline’s affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck . Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to their stepmother’s disdain, while her half brother and half sister are thoroughly spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not what she really yearns for — the love and understanding of her family.
As I’ve mentioned before, my younger brother (I can’t say little anymore because he’s taller than me now!) isn’t a huge reader so when he does read a book and recommends it to me – I will always take the time to read it.
For school he had to read the book, Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted daughter by Adeline Yen Mah, and after reading it, thought I might be interested in it.
The book follows the true story of Adeline Yen Mah, an unwanted daughter in China from around 1935 to around 1950. Adeline’s mother died soon after her birth and therefore she is seen as bad luck by her siblings. Her father remarries and soon forgets about her and her other siblings, his new wife taking control and relegating them all to almost servant status – Adeline being the least. All she wants is for her father to love her and be proud of her and this is her story of how she works so hard to achieve that – even if it’s only for a moment.
This book was sad. The fact that it’s true and doesn’t have a ridiculously happy ending like the story of Cinderella does, made it even sadder. Obviously there are children who have been a lot worse off in China, especially daughters, however reading someone’s memoirs of feeling so unloved as a child just breaks my heart – especially as I have a child of my own now.
Adeline was adorable and so eager to please. She worked so hard and was so strong. I really admired her resolve, especially as she was so young. It really makes a lot of the children I come across on a regular basis seem like massive spoiled brats. Her stepmother was a real piece of work and I actually can’t believe people exist like that! How can people treat other people like that? I didn’t mind her father so much, he was just weak and under his wife’s thumb. Her siblings were interesting and there was a kind of love/hate relationship with them. Aunty Baba, Yi Yi and Nai Nai were extremely likeable.
The story was well written. I also enjoyed the fact that the author added various Chinese characters to the text – it added an extra touch that gave it a greater depth.
The story was interesting and informative as well as emotionally involving you – I can see why it was chosen as a school text.
Overall I enjoyed it although it was sad and tugged a bit at my heart. I would definitely recommend it to those who like historical memoirs/autobiographies.