A Reign of Terror and Oppression (Memorable Memoir)
Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah is the heart-breaking true story of an “unwanted Chinese” daughter. Adeline’s birth mother died from complications shortly after Adeline was born and soon a new stepmother entered the lives of the Yen family. The new mother called “Niang” gave birth to a girl and a boy, bringing the total brood to seven children. Right from the beginning her own children were favored as the stepchildren suffered under her rule. Niang was a vindictive, conniving, tyrant who manipulated her husband, kids, and other family members’ lives in a “reign of terror and oppression.” In an effort to divide and conquer, Niang encouraged strife and betrayal amongst the siblings. Everyone was affected by her endless emotional abuse, but it was Adeline who was singled out. Her own father, however, was not innocent, as he always sided with Niang, no matter how unjust, even dispensing own variations of mistreatment. This poignant and memorable book is about the basic struggle for love and acceptance, about defeat and ultimate triumph. Like The Glass Castle it’s tragic, compelling, and unforgettable.
Falling Leaves, a complete biography from childhood to adulthood, was first published in 1997. Two years later Yen Mah published an abridged version of this book called Chinese Cinderella. I read Chinese Cinderella over a decade ago and it wasn’t until my book club chose Falling Leaves that I realized it was the same story. Either book is riveting, and I highly recommend them.
This was a book club selection and all our members thought it was very good--a definite thumbs-up! We were all outraged at the evil stepmother and her husband's disregard to his own children.
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