Ariel Marie's Reviews > Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah
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May 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: books-about-asia
Read in July, 2012

Chinese Cinderella follows the life of Adeline Yen Mah from her earlier years of school and follows her through the end of her years when she fights for a college education. Family is an important element of this novel as is most books about the lives of girls in China. It was interesting to read this novel after I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan because the same family dynamics followed through. Chinese Cinderella was a more updated version and illustrated the views of having a biracial family due to the entrance of the step-mother.

Adeline beings her memoir with her life starting in 1941. This is her life with the French occupying China and the Japanese about to enter from their war efforts. Her life proves to be interesting as she grows up during a fascinating time of change. Over and over again, Adeline sees everything about her country change from the French to the Japanese to the Communists taking over. The underlying build of history proves to be interesting. It was a great way to personally learn about history while following Adeline's life more. There was no one focus on history or just culture yet Adeline's life shows how both can effect her as a child.

There is one part of her life when she is living back in Tianjin at a boarding school where the Communists are entering their everyday life. A girl introduces them to her and there is this horror movie feel to the events that follow. Adeline is not allowed out of her boarding school yet hears news on occasion of how the Communists are winning the war. Girls are leaving and empty beds remain behind like tombs. Adeline's writing captivated me. This part especially revealed her talents considering the importance of each word as she described the scenery around her. Fear existed in her word that is often forgotten in a lot of other books that cover such a topic. In other memoirs about the Communist take over, tragedy seems to be the main focus. Therefore, I found Chinese Cinderella to be more of a fascinating approach. In addition, she is a child unable to understand the politics around such events.

The writing style of Chinese Cinderella was interesting. It was as much as its strength as its weakness. The simplicity of Adeline's word choices did a beautiful job at crafting certain scenes. There were moments in her memoir where I felt a pang of sorrow before anything happened. Meanwhile, it took away from her life or at least that was how I felt until I realized the book is geared toward a younger audience. Keeping it in mind that this is more for the younger half of YA then the book makes perfect sense.

Chinese Cinderella does a great job at keeping the words and information as simple as possible. The actions and reactions of Adeline along with her family says a lot about the culture of China. It also illustrates the perfect view of how girls are viewed along with children in general. The plight of her siblings is revealed along with her daily struggle to survive in her home. Yet Adeline provides a view to her outer world.

There is a lot to learn and it's easy information to pick up. After each reading session, I realized how much more I knew about China. It felt as if I were continuing the lessons Snow Flower and the Secret Fan started. Together the two books can do a brilliant job at relying the information to a person anywhere else in the world to the inner workings of a family in China and how women are viewed.

I would recommend this book to anybody who doesn't have a lot of time to sit down and study China or to a younger child. Since the memoir is geared toward a younger audience, I feel as if the book should join a summer reading program because I feel as if Adeline's lessons on life are just as important as understanding the history/culture she reveals. She is a Cinderella in a much different fashion. Instead of meeting her Prince Charming and running off with him, her life takes a very different turn depending on the importance of education rather than silly little dreams.
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Reading Progress

06/22/2012 page 6
3.0% "Oh wow. 6 pages. I'm such an impressive reader."
06/22/2012 page 6
3.0% "Oh wow. 6 pages. I'm such an impressive reader."
06/25/2012 page 49
24.0% "It's been interesting reading this book and I wish I had more time. I feel like I'm reading a more updated version of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in the sense of family relationships. At the same time, it's all from a very different perspective."
07/03/2012 page 123
60.0% "Almost finished. Maybe I can finish this before Friday."
07/04/2012 page 162
79.0% "I just read the most fascinating part about Mandarin in this book, and attempted to take notes.

I want to go back through Snow Flower and the Secret Fan along with Dreaming in Mandarin to take notes in my little notebook. I plan on bringing it with me to China."
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Eun (new)

Eun Jae I finished it reading, and indeed it was wonderful! :)


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