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Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  31,484 ratings  ·  2,823 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
Mass Market Paperback, 205 pages
Published May 6th 2009 by Laurel Leaf (Random House Children's Books ) (first published August 2nd 1999)
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Black Do you ever had been a child? she was only 6 years old and didn't know what to do. when she was grown up she felt ashamed to tell others that her pare…moreDo you ever had been a child? she was only 6 years old and didn't know what to do. when she was grown up she felt ashamed to tell others that her parents doesn't care about her. (less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  31,484 ratings  ·  2,823 reviews

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Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
kwesi 章英狮
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Zitong Ren
I don’t like, read autobiographies/biographies and the only reason I read this is that I didn’t realise it was one until I actually started the book. Because who actually reads the synopsis am I right? (just as a note, I normally do read synopses of books, this is just quarantine me continuing to be, I suppose, mega dumb). I suppose the reason as to why I have like read maybe one autobiography about 4 years ago, is that I generally read as a way of escapism because the real world is pretty damn ...more
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Catterson Patterson
Oct 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
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
Juliaa Ce
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, library, 4-star, bio-mem
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
Nadin Adel
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Enchanting, heartbreaking, devastating tale of a little Chinese girl, Adeline.

It is a story through the Chinese history through a child's eye.
It is a story of the traditions that would change people's life and fate!
It is the story of Adeline Yen Mah ..


An autobiography of the little Adeline growing up in her family whom are unwilling to raise her and unwelcoming her presence. I can't imagine the magnificent intensity of both rudeness and love enclosed in the lines of this masterpiece. Adel
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think this is the children’s version of the author’s autobiography, Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter. It’s pretty short and focuses on the author’s childhood as an unwanted child.

She was the youngest of five children; her mother died giving birth to her, and then her father married a very young wife. This stepmother took over the house, and I really wish I could strangle this woman.

The family was wealthy but never spent money on Adeline if they could help it. She suff
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: advisory-shelf
Kendra Guo 904

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
Hannah Rahman
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sully (thysaltymar)
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
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.
Elizabeth S
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Different Struggles
How do you make it through a horrendous day? Some people wait it out, others try to make it better. Personally, I just go to bed and all of yesterday's problems will be gone when I wake up. But for some people that does not happen because they are stuck in glue. Yesterdays troubles are tomorrows troubles as well.
The story of Yen Mah is told through the book, Chinese CInderella the True Story of an Unwanted Daughter. This memoir is all about the struggles Yen Mah had to go th
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Danyelle Leafty
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-faire-books
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
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Kahleia Corpuz
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fairytales have the word fairy in them for a reason. They’re fake. There’s no magical castle to live in. No spontaneous singing and dancing with animals. No prince to come out of the blue and save you from all your problems. This is why Adeline learns to save herself. And while she may not be living in fairytale, she shared the same tragic past as one particular blonde-haired blue-eyed glass-slipper-wearing princess.
Adeline Yen Mah or Yen Jun-ling was seen as bad luck to her family. Her mother
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
(I read this because it's Zach's assigned reading for the summer.)

I had a hard time deciding what to rate this book.

My initial reaction was to give it less than 3 stars because I found the writing to be generally awkward. That is my main complaint about this book, similar to "Who Fears Death?" This was written as a children's book and is told from the point of view of the author as a child, so maybe the way she thought she should convey the story to her audience just didn't work for me. However
Serethiel Sequoia
A retelling of the life of author and physician Adeline Yen Mah, *Chinese Cinderella* was well written and brutally honest, with plenty of intrigue in between.

But it was sad.

Adeline was mistreated as a child, told that she was "bad luck" because her mother had died shortly after her birth. For the most part despised by her sister, brothers, father, and stepmother, she lived a lonely life, only loved by her aunt, grandparents, and playmates at school, playmates unaware of her unfortunate home lif
Areej Chaudhary
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Adeline Yen Mah, a very inspiring and respected women, had suffered a lot during her childhood. Her mother had died giving birth to her, so her family identifies her as" bad luck". She has been beaten, whipped, and forgotten by the people she needs the most.

This inspiring and strong story truly deserves 5 stars. The unique and devastating scenes in this book makes it really hard to put down, making us think what will happen next. This book will always be in my head, as it conveys a strong and m
Simone Yemm
Jan 01, 2008 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
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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

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