Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter” as Want to Read:
Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,835 Ratings  ·  2,039 Reviews
A riveting memoir of a girl's painful coming-of-age in a wealthy Chinese family during the 1940s.

A Chinese proverb says, "Falling leaves return to their roots." In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to tell the story of her painful childhood and her ultimate triumph and courage in the face of despair. Adeline's affluent, powerful family considers her
...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published May 6th 2009 by Laurel Leaf (first published August 2nd 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Chinese Cinderella, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Seren Davies People who are saying she had it good obviously have no idea what it's like to feel unwanted by the people who are supposed to love you…morePeople who are saying she had it good obviously have no idea what it's like to feel unwanted by the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally.
That stays with you forever that no matter whether or not you're fucked up enough to make friends and form relationships it's always in the back of your mind.
"your own parents didn't even love you. why would anyone else?"(less)
Alisar I think there was an element of shame involved, also when someone is getting abused, it isn't as easy as just telling someone. there is so much fear…moreI think there was an element of shame involved, also when someone is getting abused, it isn't as easy as just telling someone. there is so much fear instilled that often it is difficult to talk about it, regardless of the nice people you meet. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kwesi 章英狮
Every country and every people that resides have different culture and have different story to tell. From the most depressing experience of their lives from most unforgettable moments they felt in their childhood. But how can they manage to express and treasure those experiences forever? Some people write them on their journals or diaries, some record it through tapes and CDs, some tell their past lives from their grandsons and few write and compile their stories into a book.

Adeline Yen Mah's sh
...more
Thomas
Chinese Cinderella proves that you don't need to write like Virginia Woolf or produce the next "Great American Novel" to create a work of art. In this simple yet beautifully-narrated memoir, Adeline Yen Mah shares how she grew up as an unwanted child in a cruel and wealthy family. Her story, while similar to ones we've all heard before, reveals the resilience of humankind in the face of tremendous struggle. Yen Mah crafts her tale in a way that makes it unique yet relatable all at once, maintain ...more
Laura
Apr 11, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is really shocking about this book is to read about the abuse of a child (the author) at the hands of her truly wicked stepmother and sadistic father (well, the stepmother is sadistic, too, so they're a perfect pair), and then to get to the middle of the book and actually see photos of these horrible people. It made my blood boil. Adeline Yen Mah's story, however, is about a child's attempts to navigate an abusive household situated in China during and after World War II. As she matures, we ...more
Abby
May 01, 2010 Abby rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a whiny book!
At that time in china or hong kong or whatever she was lucky to be able to
1. Go to school
2. Have food daily
3. Have a proper home. My, even a big house!
4. Have a bed
5. Have a fucking DRIVER?!
6. have clothes
7. Knew English (?)

My mother never had that yet she is living like any other who suffered from lack of necessities. Never in my life had she complained to me even once about her past. Well she have, but only ever about her stepfather beating her until she bled. She and her ot
...more
JuliaOrlando
Jan 05, 2016 JuliaOrlando rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if enjoy is the right word to describe this book, but I am glad I read it.

Because the author,Yen-Junling, is blamed for killing her mother during childbirth, her father and siblings neglect and ignore her unless is it to treat her as a servant. While Yen-Junling thinks of herself as worthless and strives for her father's attention and love, she gets positive attention and love from her Ye-Ye (grandfather) and her Aunt Baba and her school friends.

This book was on the one hand heart-b
...more
Karen
Jul 08, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time being too sympathetic for Adeline because, although treated like an unwanted daughter, she still had it SO much better than the majority of the populace of China during that very turbulent time. She still received a 1st class education, she was not sold off as a slave or given away as a third or fourth wife to some old man, she never had to go hungry or without the basics of life. Her story could be that of a number of people from many different cultures. She comes off as whine ...more
Dulce
Dec 16, 2014 Dulce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chinese Cinderella was a great book. It taught me many new things. I really liked this book because it wasn't like an ordinary Cinderella story. Their is not a prince in this story their is no magic, but it's about someone who is unwanted. Their were some parts in the story that I didn't like but their were only the parts were she got hit for doing nothing. Adeline was a girl who her father, brothers, and sister blamed her for her mothers death. Adeline was treated unfair by her family. Her fath ...more
Kendra
Dec 23, 2008 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advisory-shelf
Kendra Guo 904
12/22/08

Chinese Cinderella
The true story of an unwanted daughter
By Adeline Yen Mah
205pp. New York, New York
Dell Laurel-Leaf. $6.50 US
ISBN 00-440-22865-4

Adeline Yen Mah’s novel, Chinese Cinderella, tells a story about her as a young girl, Adeline struggles for the attention and affection from her father and family. The Chinese Cinderella was a really touching and interesting story. If you could relate you might cry. And this story is said to be a true story. Read this if you like t
...more
Adira
I remember it like it was yesterday when I picked up this book at my fourth grade book fair. I devoured this story all the way home and was finish with it by the time we pulled into the driveway with only the thought of how how hard Yen Mah's life must've been as a child.

Adeline Yen Mah's story was heartbreaking in the worst type of way. Upset that his wife died in childbirth, Yen Mah's father punishes her and places her into the custody of her Aunt to be looked after as a small child. As her me
...more
June
Apr 10, 2008 June rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I also read Falling Leaves by the same author. It seems to be a retelling of the same story. The author recounts the cruelty she suffered as an outcast daughter who is blamed for her mother's death. She is treated like a second class citizen by her siblings, her father and her new step mother. I found the details about life during WWII interesting. While not quite as brutal as some other memoirs that come to mind, such as Bastard out of Carolina, it conveys what it feels like to be an unloved ch ...more
Salymar
Jun 04, 2012 Salymar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my book report back in high school. I treated this book not just a topic in a report but an inspirational novel that burst the tears out of me.
Adeline Yen Mah's Cinderella story is about a child's attempts to navigate an abusive household situated in China during and after World War II.
Kahleia Corpuz
May 30, 2016 Kahleia Corpuz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to swallow that THIS was the life of a girl living in China in the 20th century. It was filled with melancholy and the harsh truth. Although, on matters that Adeline has to face, my issues hold no candle to hers.

But, her quotes about writing were so relatable and true to how writing is done:

"To my heroine I gave everything of myself. What began as a diversion became a passion. In the end, I had her triumph over her adversities through her own efforts. I enjoyed my task so much that I w
...more
Mahima
Apr 26, 2013 Mahima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chinese Cinderella
Adeline Yen Mah

I decided to read this book because it was lying on the shelf for ages and ages and also because i needed a book to read. I particularly liked this book because it was a true story about a young girl and it's very motivational.

This book fulfills the category of an autobiography on the bingo board. I choose this category because i quiet like true stories that have some time inspirational message. Chinese Cinderella shows how Adeline struggles to gain acceptance
...more
Avigail
Very storg book. Chinese Cinderella is a heart-wrenching and sorrowful tale of a young girl growing up in a classic Cinderella setting. Treated harshly by her step-mother and ignored by her father, Adeline's life seems doomed to perpetual sadness. Every time something arrives to lighten up her life, it is taken away from her. She has to deal with loneliness and despair, but throughout the story she never gives up hope, that someday, somehow, things will get better.

Quote: "Please believe that one
...more
Jeanette
I'm not going to rate this because I just reached exactly half way through and I have no desire to finish it. It's not only the whining but the style of the writing. She's too preachy-teachy for me to listen to her "poor me" for that many more chapters. Family dysfunction and cultural clash happens to 100,000's every day who need to emigrate or for economic reasons. It's sad that she is so negative in response to the circumstances of her myriad misfortunes. But I have no desire to seep myself do ...more
Linda Bakker-Zwakhals
That was so much more emotional than expected. The way they treated her so badly, it made me wanna scream! They are just so cruel. You just dont do that to a little girl. And you dont do it time and time again. I am so amazed at Adeline. She is such a strong and powerful girl, and made her own future, in spite of everything that has been done to her. Truly inspirational.
Danyelle Leafty
Adeline's birth led to her mother's death, something her family never let her forget. Her father ignored her, and her brothers and sisters tormented her in their own quest for their father's attention. Only in her aunt and grandfather did Adeline find love and peace. Adeline soon turned to scholastic achievement in order to find something of worth in herself. And for every golden star and award she received, her aunt not only praised her, but put them in a safe where she kept her special things. ...more
Anushree
Sep 10, 2012 Anushree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is basically about Adeline, as a young girl, who is disliked by her whole family because they assume her birth was the cause of her mother's death. Adeline lives with her father, Aunt Baba, her grandparents, her older sister and her 3 brothers. When she is one year old, her father marries another woman (whom they call Niang) who is partial towards Adeline and her siblings. As Adeline grows up, she is neglected from the family, but is only accepted by her Aunt Baba and her grandparents. ...more
Sehrish
Oct 20, 2012 Sehrish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favourite and the most memorable story of all time. Its a true story about a girl called Adeline (the author) who tells us the story of her bravery over the abuse she suffers by own father and stepmother. Adeline is born into wealthy and powerful family in China, but her life is a struggle from the moment she is born, as mother dies after her birth due to complications with the delivery. In Chinese culture this marks Adeline as cursed and bad luck, causing her to grow up with the guil ...more
Catterson Patterson
Firstly, I have to say that I haven't read this book since I was fourteen or fifteen, so I may be altogether mistaken, though I doubt it since it left such a huge impression on me.

Secondly, I would say I am stupidly masochistic with my reading choices. I love depressing books, and I expected to love this one. This author, however, has done a fantastic job of taking a potentially interesting story and sucking any sense of perspective or dimension from it, along with any sort of maturity with whic
...more
Hannah Rahman
Jul 28, 2013 Hannah Rahman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wide-reading
Chinese Cinderella is an amazing novel that is a true story about a girl who was looked down upon and isolated from the rest of her family. As a child she was looked after by her aunt. After her mother died giving birth to her she was considered bad luck by the rest of her family and when her dad remarries she is completely ignored. Although she wins many prizes and excels at school her family still doesn't give her the love and respect she deserves. Adeline Yen Mah goes through many hardships a ...more
Jinbin
Feb 24, 2008 Jinbin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advisory-books
"Chinese Cinderella" happens to be a true story about the author's own childhood experience. During her childhood, which takes time in the 1930s to 1940s, she was viewed as an unwanted and unimportant person to her family. Her aunt and grandpa and third brother were the only ones that wanted to support her, but couldn't help much. She puts herself into her studies and earned lots of honors. Her family, mostly her stepmother, has given her an unbearable childhood in which she could never forget. ...more
Simone Yemm
Jan 01, 2008 Simone Yemm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I found this book pretty easy to read and the story was reasonably engaging, but in an age where biographies abound, this one didn't feel particularly special. Sure, the things that happened to her were sad, but in the end not outrageously tragic. She overcame great odds to become the person she is today ... but the story didn't stand out. It's also written a little too simply for my taste - I guess because it's a teen book. It didn't transfer well as an adult reader. But for young teens reading ...more
Alosi Bloomfield
Apr 08, 2014 Alosi Bloomfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to opt for a non- dystopian book this time and look for something a little different. This is a coming of age/ autobiography type book, based on the horrific childhood faced by one chinnese girl. It was sitting on my shelf at home and I hadn't gotten round to reading it so I finaly picked it up and read it. One character I found interesting was her father. He had the tragic loss of his wife and now is married to a horrible and cruel women who makes the childhood of the youngest and onl ...more
Leslie
Mar 23, 2016 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't even think I need to introduce just how heart wrenching but powerful this autobiography is. The title alone says it all.

Adeline Yen Mah's story was painful yet absolutely beautiful. In this book, we get to hear her tell her stories of the challenges and difficulties that comes when trying to find one's self while those closest to you; those who are supposed to love you unconditionally—believe you will never amount to anything. Adeline Yen Mah defied the odds and garnered triumph through
...more
Megan
Feb 01, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chinese Cinderella is about a girl constantly struggling to get through life as the unwanted child in her family. Although it was called Chinese Cinderella, it wasn't like the traditional Cinderella story. There wasn't a Prince Charming, there wasn't a ball and there wasn't a fairy godmother. It was the sheer reality of Adeline's life as the unwanted.

Her story was heart-breaking.

Yes, it's true that at points, I found it hard to read and understand the constant references to Chinese culture. But
...more
bobbybobbette
Jul 05, 2014 bobbybobbette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-faves, helped
"Chinese Cinderella" portrays in detail the life of a very unwanted daughter (it says that right on the cover) and is so, powerful, unlike Cinderella, and you would love it because very few could relate to it, taking you on an adventure which you would want to know more and more about. never daring to stop for the sake of it's powerful portrayal skills.
Evie
Sep 06, 2015 Evie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i thought that this book was an amazing but heartbreaking with some moments of excitement inbetween. i would recommend this book to you if you enjoy unfortunate yet brilliant books, or fascinating yet tragic books. So basically everyone!
Siddharth Chakravarthy
To be honest, i was a bit let down by this book.
I felt something amiss in Adeline's story. The setting of the story was what bothered me. Adeline was born with a silver spoon. Her family was well off and she never seemed to be in short of food or shelter. Her family even had a Chauffeur,Big Mansion etc. Her step mother often dined at expensive restaurants. Of course, some step mothers are evil and they don't show affection and care towards their step daughter. When a person has siblings, he/she
...more
Shaleigh
Mar 17, 2015 Shaleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Theme Projects 2016: Theme Project- Andrea 1 4 Mar 02, 2016 02:27AM  
Theme Projects 2016: Vicky Jen-Art Presentation 2 10 Feb 04, 2016 03:33AM  
Theme Projects 2016: Grace Zhang's Chinese Cinderella Project 1 12 Jan 31, 2016 01:16PM  
Theme Projects 2016: Caroline Yang's Art Project 1 17 Jan 29, 2016 03:25AM  
  • Red Scarf Girl
  • Ties That Bind, Ties That Break
  • Paper Daughter: A Memoir
  • Bound Feet & Western Dress
  • Splendid Slippers: A Thousand Years of an Erotic Tradition
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography
  • Colors of the Mountain
  • Spilled Water
  • Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev
  • Sweet Mandarin
  • Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution
  • The Concubine's Children
  • Becoming Anna
  • China: Portrait of a People
  • Fifth Chinese Daughter
  • Call Me Crazy: A Memoir
  • Double Luck: Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan
  • An Unexpected Exile
3878
Adeline Yen Mah (Chinese: Yen Jun-ling; Pinyin: Mǎ Yán Jūnlíng; Yale (Cantonese): ma5 yim4 gwan1 ling4) (official birthday 30th November 1937, however real birthday not known, this is in fact her father's birthday) is a Chinese-American author and physician. She grew up in Tianjin, Shanghai and Hong Kong with an older sister, Lydia; three older brothers, Gregory, Edgar and James and a younger half ...more
More about Adeline Yen Mah...

Share This Book



“Please believe that one single positive dream is more important than a thousand negative realities.” 2226 likes
“I read because I have to. It drives everything else from my mind. It lets me escape to find other world.” 152 likes
More quotes…