Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter [Adeline Yen Falling Leaves and millions of other books are available for site Kindle. Though called a memoir, Adeline Yeh Ma's Falling Leaves is really a historical account of the past years in China craftily written through the eyes of a young . Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter. Adeline Yen Mah, Author, Adeline Yen Mah, Author John Wiley & Sons $ (p) ISBN.
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Start by marking “Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter” as Want to Read: Born in 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. Sign me up to get more news about Biography & Memoir books. The basis for the book's title is the Chinese aphorism "falling leaves return to their roots. earn your way to a free book! Join Reader Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah. Read an People Who Read Falling Leaves Also Read. ‹ ›.
Zeebra Books Although the focus of this memoir is the author's struggle to be loved by a family that treated her cruelly, it is more notable for its portrait of the domestic affairs of an immensely wealthy, Westernized Chinese family in Shanghai as the city evolved under the harsh strictures of Mao and Deng. Yen Mah's father knew how to make money and survive, regardless of the regime in power. In addition to an assortment of profitable enterprises, he stashed away two tons of gold in a Swiss bank, and eventually the family fled to Hong Kong. But he was indifferent to his seven children and in the thrall of a second wife who makes Cinderella's stepmother seem angelic. His first wife, Yen Mah's mother, died at her birth, and the child, considered an ill omen, was treated with crushing severity.
She has stated in Falling Leaves that she did not use the real names of her siblings and their spouses to protect their identities but she did, however, use the real names of her father, stepmother, aunt and husband, while referring to her paternal grandparents only by the Chinese terms 'Ye Ye' and 'Nai Nai'.
They had two children, Franklin and Susan Jun-qing. Her legal birthday is 30 November, as her father did not record her date of birth and instead he gave her his own a common practice prior to the establishment of the People's Republic of China in Two weeks after her birth, her mother died of puerperal fever and according to traditional Chinese beliefs, Yen Mah was called 'bad luck' by the rest of her family and because of this, treated harshly throughout her childhood.
Two months later, her aunt, Ye Ye, and Susan arrived the former two delayed moving to observe the hundred days' mourning period for Nai Nai. When Susan arrived, she was too young and too close to Aunt Baba to recognise and like her mother, Prosperi, who thus beat her soundly in frustration.
Yen Mah intervened, leading Niang to declare that she would never forgive her. At the age of fourteen, as her autobiography states, Yen Mah won a play-writing competition for her work Gone With the Locusts, and her father allowed her to study in England with James.
University[ edit ] Yen Mah left for the United Kingdom in August , and studied medicine at the London Hospital Medical School , eventually establishing a medical practice in California. Before the start of her career in the United States, she had a brief relationship with a man named Karl, and practised medicine in a Hong Kong hospital at the behest of her father, who refused to give her air fare when she expressed plans to move to America.
She has stated in an interview with the South China Morning Post that her father wanted her to become an obstetrician in the belief that women wanted treatment only from a female doctor, but as she hated obstetrics she became an anaesthesiologist instead.
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: 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.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published April 6th by Broadway Books first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Falling Leaves , please sign up. Vincent Migliore With your eyes. Is this the same book as Chinese Cinderella? Or has it been altered for adults while it's counterpart has been altered so children and the younger generation can gather a better understanding.
Olivia Chinese Cinderella is based on this book. Falling leaves is the real story but for adults. Chinese Cinderella was made for children. Falling leaves is …more Chinese Cinderella is based on this book. Falling leaves is about after Adeline's parents died. After Chinese cinderella less. See all 8 questions about Falling Leaves…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Sep 21, Chelsea rated it liked it. I half liked this book. I didn't like how Adeline made herself out to be this perfect little angel who gave to everyone and just kept getting shit on.
She was constantly a victim to everyone in her family, yet kept going back for more abuse. The things that happened to her as a child were sad and horrible, but I don't understand why you would ever purposely keep going back to a family who despised you as an adult when she wasn't dependent upon them.
I also found it strange that she longed for a I half liked this book. I also found it strange that she longed for a deep meaningful relationship with the family she was born into, yet she rarely talked about her kids and the family dynamic she created with Bob. She talked about how good Bob was to her for about one page, but then just complained about the family she was born into. I felt like she did a lot of complaining in the book, and was quite the martyr.
I do think it is amazing that she was able to become a doctor and build a successful practice. I think she overcame many obsticles and I look up to her in that reguard. It's pretty impressive what she was able to accomplish as a minority female in the 50's and 60's. I wonder if she realized what a strong woman she was at that time?
View all 12 comments.
The book was published in the height of the Chinese-mania in America. I thought it was another 'me-too' and never got to read it until now. This is the summary of what I think: The good: The bad: She presents the typical David vs. Goliath battle. Miseries are repeated over and over again with little lesson learned. She and everyone else on her side are angelic.
The rest are evil.
To me, there was only ONE entertaining moment in this book. Her eldest brother and apparent heir, Gregory, wrote a 6-pages letter to their father asking his permission to become a bridge player. He promptly send a telegram containing this very simple advice: I don't agree with the practice of mapping out a child's life and, to certain cultures, this may even provoke anger but, knowing the Chinese background, this is hilarious.
It is so typical of Chinese parents to disapprove such flamboyant career and the way the father put a stop to it is also so typical of the Chinese.
I just have to laugh. Despite her repeated denial not only here but also in her other book, A Thousand Pieces of Gold , I can't help but feeling that this particular book is her little revenge. I also doubt that she sincerely not sore for not getting the huge inheritance. I mean, she mentions it so many times in her book on the excuse that inheritance is her only way of knowing for sure that her parents approve of her but we don't see her youngest sister Susan, who was disowned for bravely walking out the door in rebellion against her birth mother's abuse, whining about exclusion from the inheritance.
No wonder her brother James doesn't speak to her anymore. By writing this book, she, again, defies her father who said: Instead of thinking how brave she was, I get a feeling that she was a spoiled little girl.
She described how she refused to eat fatty meat at all cost when fatty meat was considered as a source of nourishment for children at that time and to learn the value of money by asking for the tram fare. However, if you can't stand another whine from another Cinderella, skip it. Mar 12, Brent M. Jones rated it it was amazing. Falling Leaves, The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter is a look at the culture, country, and family relationships that just didn't work for any of the children in this wealthy Chinese family, especially for one young girl, Adeline Yen Mah.
She was born in and her mother died when she was born, and her new mother was Eurasian who brought her own children into the marriage. She struggled to be loved by the family but was treated cruelly. Her respect for and effort to be part of the f Falling Leaves, The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter is a look at the culture, country, and family relationships that just didn't work for any of the children in this wealthy Chinese family, especially for one young girl, Adeline Yen Mah.
Her respect for and effort to be part of the family, presents insights into the culture. 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. 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.
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 t 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 download 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.
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.
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: 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 the wicked s 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. For those of us who have been in that particular hotseat even without the Asian family background it's a little different. A rejected child often will do anything for a bit of approval on the part of the adults in her life--I've seen this even in single-child families in which the child is given "all the advantages" of special classes and opportunities to develop their talents, travel with parents, etc.
And how many memoirs of children of the wealthy are there that reveal the ugliness under the privilege. Considering that the author was programmed from Day 1 to believe that she had cost her father's beloved first wife her life by just being born, and therefore deserved nothing, it's suprising she made anything of herself.
If Yen Mah never got the counselling and guidance she needed to restore her sense of self-worth, it's not surprising that she never had the strength to make a final break with her family. A truly dysfunctional family does operate like a soap opera in many ways; I grew up in one as another last child who should have been a boy and wasn't, though we were working class, and I was fortunate enough to find the tools and strength to break away.
I never outgrew my dream of a happy, united family, though by now I know it's a dream. As Yen Mah's brother James remarks in the narrative: You wanted to believe we all shared your dream of a united family. In fact, no one cared except for you. For that very reason I have never written about my own experiences, though some have encouraged me to.
It wasn't pleasant to live it, why put it out there and spread the misery? Besides, "catharsis" can often spill over into payback. And at some point your abusers have to become unimportant in your life; otherwise, they just keep winning, even after they're dead.
At some point they've got to stop controlling the inside of your head. I did find the part where the author finds comfort and release from the burden in a folk tale a bit wish-fulfillment, but she probably wanted to end on a positive note and a "lesson". Mar 09, Polly rated it it was amazing Shelves: I got pretty bored at the beginning so I strongly recommend readers to read this book before the other. The first half of the book discuesses how Adeline was teased by her siblings because after few days of her birth, her mother pass away.
Which her rich father got another wife that is ha Falling leaves is the second book I read from Adeline Yan Mah, which is a connecting story to The Chinese Cinderella.
Which her rich father got another wife that is half french. Their stepmother doesn't like them and treat them way too unfairly compare to her own children. Adeline's brothers and sister blame her for having such stepmother. Continuing from the Chinese Cinderella, Adeline's father decide that her daughter does have the potential to go to college and so he sent her to America.
Where Adeline met her lovely husband and later helped her father through care and paying money to cure her father in U. This is one of the book that show the theme of hard workers will get what they deserve at the end. I believe her story will influence people to understand and provide unconditional care with love to their family. View 1 comment. This fabulous autobiography is both a Cinderella story and a view into 20th century Chinese life. The author was born to a successful family in Shanghai, but had the bad luck to be the baby born just before her mother's death.
She was despised, not only by her siblings but by the woman that her father married. She spent her young life trying to please her parents and trying to bring her family together.
It is a portrait of a very dysfunctional family. My heart ached for Adeline at the numerous i This fabulous autobiography is both a Cinderella story and a view into 20th century Chinese life. My heart ached for Adeline at the numerous injustices imposed on her by her cruel stepmother. Thankfully Adeline found some encouragement from an aunt.
This autobiography demonstrates how one can overcome hurdles and succeed. I enjoyed the vibrant descriptions of Shanghai and the historical information about the changing China from 's to today. Highly recommend May 12, Katie rated it liked it Shelves: I couldn't put down this book, but it was utterly, utterly depressing. I mentioned that to a friend, who glanced at it and said, "Uh, did you see the subtitle?
What did you think it was going to be? The few moments of respite from wanting to cry were when Mah put in Chinese history for context, which worked well, was helpful, and as I said, let me breathe for a moment before I inevitably wanted to go back in time and adopt this poor creature.
And that was the thing that got me - at least I couldn't put down this book, but it was utterly, utterly depressing. And that was the thing that got me - at least twice in this book, an adult outside of the family shows they are clearly aware of what's going on. The most shining example is when Niang's sister picks up Adeline from school and tells her, "Don't worry, I'll treat you all the same.
The husband worked for the UN, it's not as if they had to worry about insane repercussions, considering they could just point to the obvious abuses she had suffered and ruin the family's reputation. I digress. I definitely became super frustrated with Mah by the end, because I could not for the life of me understand how, living on a separate continent for years and years, she still cared so much what these psychopaths thought of her.
I related more and wanted to know more about Susan, who also rejected the will money. And I agree with other reviewers who thought the focus on that seemed odd, and came off as selfish. I don't think it's selfish, because hello, you were abused for years and your parents are loaded, certainly you're entitled to hope that at least when they kick it you'll get something out of it - but at the same time, I can't really relate to someone who would even want a cent of that kind of person's money, especially when they already made a great living completely on their own merit.
As a side note: While this certainly wasn't the most amazing book I've ever read, I'm a little concerned at some of the reviews that depict the author as whiny and spoiled for wanting tram fare to go the mile and a half to school. In addition, it's a bit of a reach to say she was whiny in general. If you think any type of behavior aside from psychopathy under the age of 13 the age at which she's sent away to boarding school , especially when said child is earning straight A's and winning writing contests, earns a child the abuse she endured, you're absolutely nuts.
I actually wonder if people are thinking she's older in parts of the book than she actually was. And again - whiny because when her friends gave her a surprise party for winning class president, she got a bloody nose and all of her friends were sent home? She was TEN. I don't think anyone can argue that this family is ridiculously dysfunctional, with Niang being the sort of psychopathic mastermind behind all of it.
The siblings' behavior isn't "mean" in the typical sense, but they were trained to be manipulative, demeaning, and disgusting. Basically, a "Lord of the Flies" situation. Again, sort of scary people think that this is normal.
My brother and I weren't friends growing up, but he never was cruel or.
Jul 02, Amber Karnes rated it really liked it Recommends it for: You know those books you can't put down? This was one of em for me. I was mesmerized by the cruelty the author was subjected to by her own family in this quite depressing account of a child's life, and somehow I still left with a positive impression.
She didn't slam her family or say anything hurtful about them which they MORE than deserved , she just presented her memories and the memories of her siblings as laid out facts. This is what happened to me. She's more courageous than I would have b You know those books you can't put down?