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Chinese Cinderella

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Chinese Cinderella
T a h r ’N t s eces oe
W RITTEN
BY

SUSAN LA M ARCA

Chinese Cinderella
Adeline Yen Mah
This book is the moving autobiography of a young Chinese girl, Adeline Yen Mah. Born the fifth child to an affluent Chinese family her life begins tragically. Adeline’s mother died shortly after her birth due to complications bought on by the delivery, and in Chinese culture this marks her as cursed or ‘bad luck’ (p.3). This situation is compounded by her father’s new marriage to a lady who has little affection for her husband’s five children. She displayed overt antagonism and distrust towards all of the children, particularly Adeline, whilst favoring her own younger son and daughter born soon after the marriage. The book outlines Adeline’s struggle to find a place where she feels she belongs. Denied love from her parents, she finds some solace in relationships with her grandfather Ye Ye, and her Aunt Baba, but they are taken from her. Adeline immerses herself in striving for academic achievement in the hope of winning favour, but also for its own rewards as she finds great pleasure in words and scholarly success. The book was written following the successful publication of Adeline Yen Mah’s first autobiography, Falling Leaves, which details the years of Adeline’s life from fourteen years of age into adulthood.

‘The secret story of an unwanted daughter’ (The book’s subheading)
The idea of an unwanted daughter, blamed for the death of her own mother, is a superstition that may have caused the abandonment of many. • What is the strength of such a superstition? • How does such a superstition come about? In her life Adeline Yen Mah has been many things, a brilliant academic, doctor and a writer, yet it is the role of ‘unwanted daughter’ that plays heavily on her heart. • Why is this so? • Why does it overshadow all other achievements? • Why is it so difficult to move beyond childhood hurts? The pain felt by Adeline is acute and permeates almost every scene in the book.

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