Adeline Yeh Mah's autobiography, "Falling Leaves," began with her horrible childhood in China during the 1900s, a time where foreign political and cultural influences were uprooting the very nature of Chinese customs. Adeline Mah, whose mother died promptly after her birth, was tormented by her siblings and shunned by her father. Adeline Mah's step-mother, Jeanne Prosperi Yen, a manipulative and controlling Eurasian woman, verbally and physically abused Adeline throughout her younger years. It was Jeanne's cruel malice that fed Mah's hunger for freedom, and she sought it through academic accomplishments and intellectual studies. After winning an international writing contest, Mah's plead to study abroad was headed by her father. With determination and courage, Mah was able to rise through the sexism and racism that dominated America's medical industry at the time. She became a successful doctor, married, and found a new life away from her dysfunctional family.
With the ability to portray the dreary accounts of her life journey with creativity and blatant honesty, Adeline Mah brought readers into the world that shaped her inner beliefs and thoughts. She did not merely list the characteristics of her settings, but provided vivid sensory details to bring those accounts to life. In her description of nineteenth century Hong Kong, "the streets swarmed with pedestrians... beggars, some of them legless, blind and grotesquely deformed, banging tin cups on the ground for a hand- out," Mah brought the sights and sounds that surrounded the China of her childhood before the readers’ eyes. Throughout Madeline Mah’s autobiography, the usage of numerous Chinese proverbs such as "while drinking water, remember the source" and "falling leaves return to their roots," brings a personal touch that helps readers understand the influence of the author’s Chinese upbringing on her choices and interactions with others. The repetition of one Chinese...
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