Autumn 1941. Four-year-old Adeline is intelligent and smart, receiving an award from her kindergarten teacher (Mother Agnes) on the first week of school. Her Aunt Baba treasures Adeline’s award by placing it in her special safe-deposit box. Adeline is close to her Aunt Baba, asking her about her deceased mother. Aunt Baba isn’t willing to share what she knows but Adeline learns that her mother died from a fever two weeks after she was born.
Chapter 2: A Tianjin Family
The whole family (seven children, her Father and Niang, her Grandfather Ye Ye, Grandmother Nai Nai and Aunt Baba (older sister of her Father) lived in a big house in the French Concession of Tianjin (city port on the north-east coast of china)
Chapter 3: Nai Nai’s Bound Feet
Adeline is mystified at her Grandmother Nai Nai and her bound feet. Adeline learns that having your feet bound wasn’t good and luckily, the custom had changed and small feet were no longer considered an important part of being feminine and beautiful. Adeline gladly shares the news of her achievement, but her siblings aren’t happy and are probably jealous of her, thinking it’s not possible. Because of the medal, her father singles her out, which had never happened before. Whatever someone in the family doesn’t want to do, they force it on Adeline to do it in the end.
Chapter 4: Life in Tianjin
Winter, early 1942. When Adeline started kindergarten at St Joseph’s French Convent School, her Big Sister was already in fifth grade. Complaining about having to walk Adeline to and from school, Grandmother Nai Nai finally told Ah Mao, the rickshaw-puller, to take them to and from school. Adeline loved everything about school. It was a place where they were all equals and a place where unlike her own siblings, nobody looked down on her. Finally, she felt like belonged. A year after Father, Niang and Fourth Brother had been gone, there was a heatwave on. Nai Nai decided to soak her feet, but