Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Book Review: FALLING LEAVES
Author: Adeline Yen Mah
Personal Rating: 4/5
From the back cover:
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.
A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl's journey into adulthood, Adeline's story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding. With a powerful voice that speaks of the harsh realities of growing up female in a family and society that kept girls in emotional chains, Falling Leaves is a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare authentic portrait of twentieth-century China
I wanted to read this memoir since I’ve become interested in the Chinese culture surrounding women. I’ve read a few other books that I’ve enjoyed (Women of the Silk, Snow Flower & the Secret Fan) and I was hoping to enjoy a memoir in addition to fiction.
I was amazed or I should say I couldn’t believe how poorly and unfairly she was treated by her family…for her entire life. I felt bad because she just wanted to be loved and was continually trying to impress them or do what they wanted in hopes of pleasing them and winning their affection. It never happened. Her stepmother is one of the cruelest people I’ve ever heard about.
Adeline does find happiness in America with a husband, family and job. I feel that her happiness was always overshadowed by her perceived failure of being loved and betrayed by her family.
The royalties from Falling Leaves have been donated by Adeline Yen Mah to a foundation to enable students to study at universities in Beijing and Shangai.