Her relationships with her siblings as a young girl, and later as a successful woman, added a dimension to the cruelty she suffered from both of her parents. This Chinese proverb described her life. It was hard to understand why she would have even wanted to return to her roots.
It seemed that the real roots in this family was her strength. In Adeline was 12 years old with the impact of Mao on China and the revolution things changed for her father. He hoped to that the new government in Hong Kong might make things better for the family. It didn't get better for Adeline and she did not find love with either her dad or stepmother or with any of her 6 brothers and sisters.
An aunt offered her love and encouragement to leave, and she went with her to the United States where she was realized her goals as a student and then was able to have a happy marriage. Her insights and successes, against all odds, are a fascinating part of this book. This Chinese proverb, "When leaves fall down they return to their roots", described her life. This book is one that I didn't want to put down.
It left me anxious to find out what was coming next.
For more on this book see web site www. View 2 comments. Apr 07, Paul Wallis rated it it was amazing. This is a bio with a particularly brutal twist. It's not a "pretty" book. It's a narrative of a viciously dysfunctional family. For those who don't know Chinese culture, it's also a pretty authentic look at the old hierarchy of family relationships. Adeline's innocent and understandably bewildered blundering through her early life is bad enough, but the story gets e This is a bio with a particularly brutal twist.
Adeline's innocent and understandably bewildered blundering through her early life is bad enough, but the story gets even more twisted as it goes along. The relentless battering of nasty events in the story isn't pleasant reading. The almost Gulag Archipelago-like nature of the cruelty in the family is impossible to like. It reminded me a bit of David Copperfield, at some points.
Falling Leaves leaves for dead so many fictional versions of family life. This is a story of premeditated cruelty to a family member. I saw one review saying "Why should I care about this person" and another which disliked the way it claims Adeline presents herself as a "victim", with which I utterly disagree. I can't claim to understand, let alone sympathize, with either viewpoint on principle.
Approving or disapproving of someone's life story isn't a very realistic approach to reading a bio. Would reviewers prefer that the person had a different life story? Excuse my mentioning this point, but if the criteria for biographies was whether or not reviewers "liked" someone's life story, literature would be much poorer. Western readers may find some difficulty understanding the cultural references.
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This is a very Chinese story. Add to this the Chinese revolution, the rise of Hong Kong after and the Cultural Revolution, and Falling Leaves is a good introduction to the realities of being Chinese in the modern sense. History for this generation of Chinese was pure hell. The very black irony in Falling Leaves is that the family managed to add so much misery to its existence at such a time in history, even while being comparatively rich.
You will find this a particularly confronting book. You will not expect the ending, or the logic of family behaviour.
MAH, Adeline Yen 1937-
There are no "cute" bits, and even the occasional softenings of some parts of the story have a range of payoffs. A fiction writer could not have written this book. Read it as a story, and you'll see a book that needed to be written. Read it as a bio, and you'll see a story which can barely fit in to the book. Adeline did a good job of making this tale comprehensible, and she deserves credit for that. Oct 21, Dorothea rated it it was ok. This memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter failed to fully gain my sympathy for its author.
Adeline Yen Mah was born in to a wealthy family in Tianjin. Her mother died shortly thereafter and her father married a woman who would become Adeline's wicked stepmother. When the family moved to Shanghai, Adeline was forced to endure the hideousness of her straight Chinese hair when she longed for a "perm" like the stylish westerns had.
She and her brothers were forced to walk nearly three miles to school This memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter failed to fully gain my sympathy for its author. She and her brothers were forced to walk nearly three miles to school. And they were deprived of pocket change with which to buy little candies. And sometimes, her siblings were mean to her! Adeline Yen Mah paints herself as a saint while bitterly recalling every injustice she endured throughout her childhood.
Yes, her stepmother was a cruel bitch from hell but Adeline never shares with her readers anything she ever did to a another human being that she regrets. And for this reason it's difficult for this reader to completely trust or sympathize with her account. What I did appreciate from this book was the author's constant referral to the economic and political changes that were taking place in China from to For this reason I might read some of her other books. I feel she has a lot to offer the world through her writing if she could stop obsessing about gaining the love and approval of her flaccid father and her icy stepmother, especially when she measures "love" and "approval" in terms of how much money is given to her in their respective wills.
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Mar 31, Melissa rated it did not like it. I really didn't like this book. To which my husband replied, "Then don't read it. I hoped that eventually I would come to understand why I should care about the author. At the end though, I still didn't. Sure, she had a crap childhood.
For that, I give her pity. Her step moth I really didn't like this book. Her step mother didn't like her. But, her stepmother didn't like any of the kids. Plus, it wasn't like she was getting thrown in a closet.
Sure, she was sent away to boarding school In the end, she was able to make a success out of her life. What really got me is that she couldn't believe her stepmother had left her out of the will.
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Come on, who didn't see that coming? Her stepmother was evil. I don't know why the author kept expecting that to change. I wanted to scream, "Grow up and get over it. Your childhood sucked, your step mother was evil, your brothers and sisters were back stabbers. View all 7 comments. Aug 11, Orinoco Womble tidy bag and all rated it liked it Shelves: china-is-not-japan , memoirs , d-is-for-dysfunctional.
In English we say "An apple falls close to the tree" meaning you are like your family. In Shanghai they say "The leaves fall close to the roots" meaning you always go back to family, to your roots--like it or not. Covering a sweeping range of China's immediate past, from the s to today, this book is partly fascinating history of a period of enormous upheaval and change, partly telenovela of the "Falcon Crest" sort, as it tells the story of a wealthy family and the machinations of In English we say "An apple falls close to the tree" meaning you are like your family.
Covering a sweeping range of China's immediate past, from the s to today, this book is partly fascinating history of a period of enormous upheaval and change, partly telenovela of the "Falcon Crest" sort, as it tells the story of a wealthy family and the machinations of the wicked stepmother to control everything from economic resources to her children's behaviour. I've read a lot of scathing reviews of this book, most of which attack the author the unwanted fifth daughter for "whining" and being a "victim.