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

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
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's review
Jul 19, 2009

really liked it
Read in July, 2009

This is a real-life Cinderella story. In fact, the author apparently wrote a children's version of her memoir titled Chinese Cinderella. Having read this on the heels of Shanghai Girls, it was interesting to compare the autobiographical perspective with the fictional perspective of many of the same historical events, places, culture and customs.

In this book, the author, born in Shanghai in the 1930s, recounts her life growing up with an evil stepmother and wanting more than anything to be loved and cherished by her parents. I have a thing for memoirs recounting awful childhoods, and I've read far worse than this, but even so, my heart went out to this girl/woman, and I identified with so much of her struggles. Reading about her stepmother, who is really just a very narcissistic, self-centered, cold person, I am left with the conclusion that people like this suffer from some form of mental illness. There is just no other explanation. Although the author manages to build a happy and successful life for herself eventually, it is maddening to read how even well into adulthood, she couldn't seem to escape from the emotional bondage of her parents until they were both dead.

It's a very good book and one I recommend, especially if you like memoirs, Cinderella stories, and/or enjoyed Shanghai Girls!
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