Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

I was blown away as I finished the book.  Couldn’t put this down.  “Chinese Cinderella” is the true story of Adeline Yen Mah who was the unwanted daughter in her family.

“A Chinese proverb says, “Falling leaves return to their roots.”  In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to paint an authentic portrait of twenith-century China as well as to tell the story of her painful childhood and her courage and ultimate triumph over despair.

After her mother dies giving birth to her Adeline’s affluent, powerful family consisders her bad luck.  Life does not get any easier when her father remarries.  She and her siblings are subjected to their stepmother’s disdain, while her half brother and half sister are thoroughly spoiled.  Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not what she really yearns for-the love and understanding of her family.”

The family is cruel to Adeline per normal but when their grandmother dies everything changes.  The stepmother is the one in charge and she is particularly cruel, the father doesn’t do anything about it.  He doesn’t care and for Adeline it is even worse.  Father doesn’t care enough to even listen to his daughter.  The children are all separated.  The two half siblings are with the parents and get everything nice while the others get all second handed things.

For Adeline her family treats her poorly.  They one time killed her little chicken, beat her, gave her a drink that was half urine, shipped her away, and blatantly ignored her.  They even were separating Adeline from her Aunt whom Adeline considered her best friend.  Adeline though had one outlet at her school and that was the friends she made there and that she was the smartest one in her class.  She kept winning awards but that all went away.  Whenever Adeline would tell them or if they found out they thought she was bragging and finally they took her away from that school and to a different one.  In the boarding schools Adeline is forgotten.  No letters, no visitors.  All Adeline had was her intelligence and the few friends at these schools.  But Adeline never stopped fighting to get the approval of her family.  In the end she does in a way but it is still not a complete love.  But Adeline does gain the chance to do something of her life.

While reading the book I was sometimes close to tears which is a little ridicules I guess but I am an emotional person.  She thought of herself of the unwanted daughter because she took away their mother and the family encouraged this thought.  The family I despised.  Ye Ye and Aunt Baba are her only allies.  The third brother was relatively nice but only on his own.  Everyone else was cruel, unjust, would beat her verbally and emotionally, and finally they made sure she was unwanted.  They shipped her away to different boarding schools, one in the middle of war.  I wanted to have Adeline saved by one of her friends parents but that never happened.  But Adeline’s greatest strength was her resolve to not give in to her families ways and to keep going in school where she excelled and was accepted by her peers.  Finishing up the book the ending was a perfect beginning for Adeline’s life.

Chinese Cinderella is a touching novel that every person reading will be able to relate on some level to Adeline and the struggle that she had to endure.  The novel will make you angry, frustrated, cry and smile as Adeline Yen Mah tries so hard her entire life to make something of herself.  In the end she finally does but it is truly for herself.

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