Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah – Book 43

I have been lucky enough to have a supportive family and husband who have helped me along the way to do what I want to do with my life.  I cannot imagine being in a position like Adeline Yen Mah, who was bullied by her siblings and stepmother, with very few people in her life to help her succeed.

Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah is an International Bestseller, and I can see why.

Falling Leaves is the true story of Adeline, the youngest of five children whose mother died while she was giving birth to Adeline.  As the youngest, as a girl, and as the one who “killed” their mother, the siblings and her new stepmother, find her unappealing.

Well, that’s an understatement.  Her new stepmother, who they call Niang, despises Adeline.  She is the only child who will not bow to Niang’s wishes as the ruler of the household.  Niang is evil in general, a vicious, controlling woman who cares more about riches than about her family, which includes 2 children of her own (one of whom she loves, the other, not so much) and five stepchildren.

I enjoyed Falling Leaves, but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed in the book until the ending.  Adeline was unloved by her stepmother, yes, but so were most of the other siblings.  Based on the title, I assumed that she was unloved because she was a girl in China, but most of the other kids were unloved as well.

When I got to the ending of the book, I realized that Adeline was right.  She was definitely the most unwanted out of her siblings, which is sad and depressing.  But the ending had a high note as well, which of course I can’t say since it would be a spoiler!

The book was sad, but not too depressing.  Adeline gave a good amount of her family history as well as the history of China and its descent into Communism.  She was unwanted, but still cared for.  Yes, she was made to walk to and from school long distances, given old-fashioned clothing, and made to be alone and neglected at her boarding school, but she was sent to prestigious boarding schools, given food to eat, etc.

But Adeline is gullible.  Sooooooo gullible.  Any time that her father, Niang, or another sibling would be nice to her, Adeline would bend over backwards to please them.  I felt bad for her in those situations.  Unfortunately, she believed too much in the good of her family members that it hurt her a lot in the process, and it hurt me to read about it.

However, this gullibility also makes her a caring, compassionate woman who wants what is best for herself and her family.  She has overcome neglect and hardship in her life to become a successful doctor and author.

What is something in life that you have overcome?


17 thoughts on “Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah – Book 43

  1. All of Adeline Yen Mah’s books are good to read… In July I started posting books I read on Goodreads and usually attach a review. Here’s one of hers I like too:”A Thousand Pieces of Gold: Growing Up Through China’s Proverbs”(My review:This book gave me insight into the proverbs that the author gleaned from the writings of Sima Qian. Adeline Yen Mah’s personal reflections with the history behind this provided a window into the Chinese mind. Reference, Chapter 3: Jing Xi Zi Zhi “Respect and cherish written word” )


  2. I also love reading novels about Asian history. I loved the fictional novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. Even though it is fictional, you do find that Children gets sold into prostitution which is horrific. I will definitely read Falling Leaves. A trip to the bookstore in my lunch break, yay!!!


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