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Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter
Falling Leaves The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter
Author: Adeline Yen Mah
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 ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780767903578
ISBN-10: 0767903579
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 304
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 298

3.8 stars, based on 298 ratings
Publisher: Broadway
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
Ding Dong, the witch is dead! The tale of the Evil Stepmother and her hated Cinderella Step Daughter is alive & well in this memoir of growing up wealthy but unloved in mid 20th century China & Hong Kong. After her mother dies giving birth to her, Adeline - the youngest of several brothers & a sister - is considered unlucky and disposable. When her beloved father then falls under the sway of a young, half-French hottie - gorgeous but obviously mentally tweaked - tale after tale of woe ensue for young Adeline and her clan at the hands of dad's new wife. At the very least, visiting with this mega-rich but scheming, screwed up family will make you feel better about the state of your own dysfunctional fam, however, after a certain point, I felt like I was eavesdropping on a therapist's couch & had stayed for one session too many.
obsidianfire avatar reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 133 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
A well written biography. You can feel the pain she has been through like you are walking in her footsteps.
reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
This story, while an entertaining, really confused me. Unlike âMemoirs of a Geishaâ or âA Boy Called Itâ, her childhood seems to lack substantial suffering. I find it hard to commiserate with her when her main grievances appear to be that she did not get money to ride the bus and that she had old clothes. While her Stepmother is a world class witch worthy of a starring role in the most cold and heartless Disney tales, I wouldn't say that her story is all that different from many others living with overbearing mothers. She is given a great education in China and in Europe. She spends much of her childhood in boarding schools. Although obviously uncared for, she wasn't locked in a closet lacking in anything but love. Her Stepmother plays favorites and plays the children against each other, but you have to wonder why the author keeps setting herself up for the horrible heartbreak. She just keeps coming back for more even when she HAS distanced herself and become a success in her own right. Really, a good read, but not exactly what I had in mind when I picked it up.
kimberlywrites avatar reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on
Helpful Score: 4
This book was not nearly as good as Memoirs of a Geisha and others. I found this book very hard to get into. While there was the occasional "OMG" moment, for the most part it's not a book I will likely even remember the title of by next week.
reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Heartbreaking memoir by a Chinese woman recalling her abusive childhood and family.
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reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 1430 more book reviews
A Chinese proverb describes the life of Adelline Yen Mah in this well written autobiography. "When leaves fall down they return to their roots".

Born in Tianjin, China, Adeline relates life from birth in 1937. She was the youngest of five children, three boys and two girls to her father and mother, his first wife. With the death of her mother, her father married a younger woman who became stepmother to the five children who gave birth to two children of her own. Niang, the cruel stepmother, dominates the story, deforming family life. Adeline's innocent and bewildered early life paves way for strange happenings as the story twists as she grows up. The family falls apart due to jealousies, betrayals and cold-heartedness forming factions fighting one another. Factions split again as power hunger and materialism replaces mistrust and devastating betrayal.

The book is difficult to put aside because one wants to discover is coming next. Fictional visions of family life disappear as premeditated cruelty to a family member emerges. Adeline's life and that of the immediate family is unbelievably deplorable. Life changes when at four years of age the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, invading China soon after. They remained until surrender with the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings. Troop withdrawal opened the country to civil war which the Communists won. At the age of twelve, things changed for her wealthy family and her father. Family members fled throughout the world.

The book ends with the close of the twentieth century when Hong Kong was handed back to the Chinese by the British Government - July 1st 1997. Some readers may find it difficult to understand the cultural references. A very Chinese story, it's an intriguingly good one about a viciously dysfunctional family. For those who don't know Chinese culture, it's also a rather authentic look at the old hierarchy of family relationships.
reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 6 more book reviews
This is a fascinating read. While there were confusing parts, I personally found it fascinating because of a personal family connection to China. There is a lot of Chinese history in the book and it provides excellent insight into Chinese culture and family life.
reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 12 more book reviews
I was unable to put this book down. The story is riveting. It gives a very good background of China from the early 1900's to present. It is about a girl in a family of 7 children who was not shown love from her parents. The family dynamics are fascinating and her triumphs despite her upbringing are redeeming.
Tipppytoes avatar reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 24 more book reviews
Wonderful heartwrenching story. Couldn't put it down. I highly recomend it.
reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on
This is the true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter. It is a heartrenching autobiography of a stubborn little girl unwanted by her own family.
vmachapy avatar reviewed Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter on + 215 more book reviews
Excellent!!


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