Valarie's Reviews > Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
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's review
May 18, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: biography-memoir, asia

I was very surprised by how disappointing this book turned out to be. While Yen Mah's childhood was certainly sad, it was hardly unique. Even in her own family, the other children frequently felt unwanted, and the author never even stops her rant of self-pity to offer up a little empathy for her siblings. If Adeline Yen Mah was my friend, I'd be very interested to hear her story, but as it is, this is just not memoir material. How many other children, especially girls from Confucian family backgrounds, could say that they were not loved by their parents? The worst part was that the author concludes the book with a battle to be recognized in her parents' will, as if distribution of money was somehow equivalent to a distribution of love. When she is snubbed in her stepmother's will, the author goes crying to her aunt, who is dying of cancer! This poor elderly relative, who was always generous with her love and support for Adeline, must spend her last painful days comforting an adult woman over the loss of her expected fortune. The author's feelings as a child were completely understandable, but as a middle-aged parent, she should really give up blaming her family for her problems. This memoir contains none of the self-awareness and responsibility that I have come to expect from autobiographies.

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