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Falling Leaves Return to Their Roots: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter Paperback – 5 Mar 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (5 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140265988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140265989
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"I read for two nights, sleepless, my heart pierced by Adeline Yen Mah's account of her terrible childhood. "Falling Leaves "is a potent psychological drama pitting a stubborn little girl against the most merciless of adversaries and rivals: her own family. I am still haunted by Mah's memoir."
Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
"Painful and lovely, at once heartbreaking and heartening."
Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
"Brilliant, compelling, and unforgettable. A heartrending modern-day Cinderella story set against the turbulence of twentieth-century China. Autobiography at its best."
Nien Chang, author of Life and Death in Shanghai" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

Response from readers has exceeded my wildest dreams
For the first fourteen years of my life, I don't recall having opened my mouth once to volunteer a single spontaneous remark during any of the meal times I shared with my parents. Everything I repressed and dared not say as a child growing up in Shanghai is in Falling Leaves. I wrote it on behalf of all unwanted children in the hope that they will persist to do their best in the face of hopelessness, to believe that in the end their spirit will prevail, to transcend their abuse and transform it into a source of courage, creativity and compassion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Page VINE VOICE on 19 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was browsing the site and I came upon this book which I read about 2 years ago. As soon as I saw the title I felt that I really should write a review because it was such an emotional experience reading this book. The author takes us through the death of her mother soon after her birth (the child being deemed a token of bad luck in China), the effect this had on her family relations and also the effect her father's subsequent marriage had on the family. You will tear your hair out with frustration because you want Adeleine to seek revenge on the family that treated her so badly. But for me the most important message in this book lies in the fact that rather than seek revenge she instead channelled her energy into putting together this well written account of her life. This book is full of lessons and different people will extract different things from it. It is definitely worth a read though if only to get an insight into a wealthy, yet emotionally bereft family living in China in the latter half of the 20th century. I would also recommend "Watching the tree" by the same author which deals with a lot of the Chinese philosophies raised in this book.
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By A Customer on 6 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
Hi! My names Alice and I'm 13 years old.......i live in Suffolk in England and recently when I went camping with family friends I read Chinese Cinderella and was very moved. I wanted to know what happened to Adeline Yan Mai after she went to the English Collage and so read Falling Leaves it is an amazing,powerful book that is well worth a read. I promise you will never take your loving family for granted again after you've read the story of a struggle for an unwanted child. This book is the story of one very courageous woman.
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Format: Paperback
My god, what an amazing book! From chapter 4 onwards I struggled to hold back my tears and felt thousands of needles piercing my heart when I read about Adeline's Niang slapping her ferociously because her friends wanted to celebrate their success. What made terribly sad was the way her siblings excluded her and her father who constantly ignored her. This is amazing book by someone who suffered throughout her childhood and overcame all obstacles to emerge triumphant. Adeline Yen Mah is an inspiration to thousands who have step-mothers and the best advice I can give you is to not only read Falling Leaves, but all the books she has written.
By Parisa diba Age 14
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Format: Paperback
I've read both books 'Chinese Cinderella' and'Falling Leaves' by Adeline Yen Mah. Although I read Chinese history,especially from the period of the beginning of the Ching Dynasty until its vanquish at the hands of anti-Imperial forces with the coming into being of the Republic of China under Dr Sun Yat Sen,and then through to the period of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s until the beginning of economic reforms in the 1970s,I am always captivated by autobiographical accounts of the lives of individuals,usually members of what one would call the Chinese diaspora, like that of Adeline Yen Mah.Reason:They usually tell you of their hardended views when expressing lives in China under the Communists in the early years, and their changed views(like that of Adeline ) of China today.
It has also proven that a changed environment - from a troubled China to Hong Kong and to UK and USA - has not changed,at least in attitude and thoughts, or much of them,anyway, in the Chineseness of a Chinese,wherever he or she may be.Forget the reason.Look at the number of trips she made back to China to see Aunt Baba and sister Lydia.
Of course, the author has made Falling Leaves even more interesting by talking about herself and family members,especially her stepmother.Even being Communist does not mean you are not interested in a lot of wealth.Having a lot of personal wealth doesn't mean you're not interested in some more. There is a trait in individuals that cannot change wherever you may be.
Most of all, Adeline's English is so good and she can really tell a story well so that when you pick up her book it is a page-turner to the end.Which was my own experience when I read after dinner till 3 in the morning!
S C Chan
Kuching,Sarawak
Malaysia
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Format: Paperback
After reading Adeline Yen Mah's re-written best-seller of 'Falling Leaves'-'Chinese Cinderella', I had to pick up a copy of this book. It is a heart-rendering tale, of what it was like being an unwanted, young Chinese girl, living in a livid constant fear of shame, disappointment and a seclusion of darkness in China during the Civil war. It is both amazing and shocking, to find this has actually took place in real-life, and is phenomenal to hear that Adeline has actually survived all of the goings-on of her traumatic past, emerging victorious and sure . Not only does this book unfold the painful tragedy of loneliness and fear, but it also gives an extremely deep insight of what went on in China. Adeline struggles for acceptance, as an illuminating a tale of humiliating and horrific abuse, leaps from every page, to which opens my eyes to see the determination of Adeline, able to survive and succeed. That is why I give this book an enduring five stars.
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The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter during the last 60 years. In order to explain the first scene in this memoir, Adeline Yen Mah has filled the opening chapters with lusty images of an emerging nation amid burgeoning commercial & international life at the end of an empire & the start of a revolution.
It is after Adeline's birth, during the Japanese encroachment around Tianjin in 1937, that her mother succumbs to puerperal fever leaving five children motherless & the household rudderless. The family must watch as Father seeks & marries a beautiful young Eurasian woman.
From here on Adeline Yen Mah's memoirs take on a dour & malevolent aspect. In her scrupulous honesty, Adeline muses that Niang must have been happy in the beginning, however, she forced siblings to choose sides, spy on each other & curry her favor. This most beautiful of stepmothers singles out the infant girl with particular venom; until Adeline is banished to boarding schools.
I survived that particular exile myself, so I found this author's memories devastating as well as healing. Adeline Yen Mah manages to recount, without a scrap of self-pity or rancor, the years of betrayal & persecution until her scholarship, literally rescues her from her stepmother's clutches. In England & at medical school, Adeline thrives. Knowing the England of the 1950s I was fascinated & familiar with her experiences. I followed her adventures with growing gladness even as my heart dropped with every dreaded return to the withered core of her family.
Then she makes her way to America & falls for a handsome man; beauty is as beauty does & why, I wondered, would someone with Adeline's relationship training, know how to choose a good man?
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