Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter

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"Riveting. A marvel of memory. Poignant proof of the human will to endure." —Amy Tan.

"Brilliant, compelling, and unforgettable. A heart-rending modern day Cinderella story set against the turbulence of 20th century China. Autobiography at its best." —Nien Chang, author of Life and Death in Shanghai.

"Charged with emotion...A vivid portrait of the human capacity for meanness, malice—and love." —Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans.

"Fascinating and heart-rending stuff...a harrowing story of emotional cruelty." —The Times of London

International bestseller.

The emotionally wrenching yet ultimately uplifting memoir of a Chinese woman struggling to win the love and acceptance of her family.

In this compelling memoir that scaled bestseller lists in England, Australia, and Hong Kong, Adeline Yen Mah chronicles her painful childhood growing up in a wealthy yet abusive Chinese family. The unwanted daughter scorned by her family, young Adeline dreamed of freedom and independence, ultimately escaping to the West to launch a successful career in medicine.

When Adeline's mother died giving birth to her, she was deemed bad luck and ostracized by her family. Then her father took a beautiful Eurasian bride and Adeline soon fell victim to the wrath of her stepmother. Treated as a pariah, she was shuttled off to boarding schools, bullied by her siblings, and deprived of the beautiful clothes and things given to the rest of the family.

Moving from Shanghai and Hong Kong to London and the United States, Falling Leaves is an enthralling saga of a prosperous Chinese family set against a background of changing political times and the collision of East and West. Written in haunting prose, it evokes all the suspense and emotional force of a satisfying novel.


About Adeline Yen Mah

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ADELINE YEN MAH, a physician, is currently pursuing a career as a writer. She lives in Huntington  Beach, California; London; and Hong Kong.
Published January 1, 2009 by Broadway Books. 278 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Falling Leaves

Kirkus Reviews

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But the Yen family drama goes on: When Joseph dies, Niang cheats all of the children out of his fortune.

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Publishers Weekly

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Although the focus of this memoir is the author's struggle to be loved by a family that treated her cruelly, it is more notable for its portrait of the domestic affairs of an immensely wealthy, Westernized Chinese family in Shanghai as the city evolved under the harsh strictures of Mao and Deng.

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In addition, we meet Yen Mah’s stepmother soon after her own mother dies giving birth to Yen Mah.

Feb 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Falling Leaves: The True Stor...

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