Saturday, February 19, 2011

38. "Chinese Cinderella" by Adeline Yen Mah

Yen Mah, Adeline. Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter. New York: Dell Luarel - Leaf, 1999. Print.

205 Pages

Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

Adeline Yen Mah, author of the international bestseller Falling Leaves, elegantly captures her early childhood in pre-communist China. Abused and extremely neglected, Adeline spends most of her childhood moving from boarding school to boarding school. Though she was top of her class, she never received the love and approval from her family that she so desired.

This is a story about survival and the endurance of the human spirit. It is a story about believing in yourself and your potential when no one else does:

"The worst of it was that I could see no way out. That was why I found it hard to fall asleep and sometimes still wet my bed. But if I tried to be really good and studied very very hard, perhaps things would become different one day, I would think. Meanwhile, I must not tell anyone how bad it really was. I should just go to school everyday and carry inside me this dreadful loneliness, a secret I could never share. Otherwise it would be over, and Father and Niang would never come to love me" (Yen Mah 55).

I think that all children and young adults will find inspiration in this book. Adeline sets an example for how survivors of child abuse and neglect can escape. For Adeline, as is the case for so many, education was her means of escape and survival.

Although classified as "youth fiction," this is a memoir someone of any age can appreciate.

4.5 darts out of 5


Anonymous said...

I loved Falling Leaves. It was definitely one of the books that got me riled up-the step-mother was awful! I am glad to know that she has written another and I look forward to reading it!

Sy's Prints said...

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. I loved Chinese Cinderella, read it when I was in school, Aunt Baba reminded me of my own aunt Bano :-)

Sy's Prints said...

Also I'd definitely recommend Wild Swans by Jung Chang. I read it for one of my uni courses An (Other) China, so interesting! It chronicles the life stories of three women. Chang the authors own life story, her mothers and her grandmothers during three different periods of chinese history. Love your reviews by the way

Portugal said...

When I read about the author's life as a child and young girl, I felt very sorry for her. Then, I was encouraged as she grew up and out of this 'horrible' family and became her own person. She succeeded in creating a new life for herself with her career, marriage, children, and wealth and seems fairly stable and 'okay.' So, what was the point of the book? If this family was so horrible to her, why does she continue to have ties and connections with them? Why does she continue to re-live the past (by whining and complaining about them)? The author doesn't give any credit to her father at all and yet she was given wonderful educational opportunities, money and travel experiences beyond what any normal child has handed to them.

d'Artagnan said...

Sy: Thanks for your recommendation! I will check that book out.

Portugal: You are entitled to your opinion but I respectfully disagree. I don't think she was whining and complaining so much as documenting her experience. Good deeds don't erase bad deeds. As many good things as her family may have done for her, it doesn't erase the abuse and neglect she experienced or invalidate the pain she felt. She is a very successful person, but I have to wonder how much of that success was gleaned from her motivation to escape from her family situation?