Mah, Adeline Yen
Adult Nonfiction 921 M275 1998
Summary: "This is a true story. Much of it was painful and difficult to write, but I felt compelled to do so. In order to understand I have to go back to the very beginning. A Chinese proverb says, `Failing leaves return to their roots.¿" So begins this extraordinary memoir of a courageous woman¿s triumph over despair in a lifelong search for acceptance, love, and understanding. Unfolding against a turbulent backdrop of social, political, and cultural upheaval, Falling Leaves is at once a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare portrait of twentieth-century China. Adeline Yen Mah was born in 1937 in Tianjin, a port city one thousand miles north of Shanghai. She was the fifth and youngest child of an affluent family. Her grand aunt¿in an unprecedented achievement--had founded the Shanghai Women¿s Bank in 1924, and her father was a revered businessman whose reputation for turning iron into gold began when he started his own firm at the age of nineteen. Yet wealth and position could not shield young Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of her own family. Adeline¿s mother died giving birth to her. As a result she was deemed bad luck, and considered inferior and insignificant by her older siblings, who bullied her relentlessly. When her father took a beautiful Eurasian as his new wife--at a time when everything Western was coveted as superior to Chinese--Adeline found herself at the mercy of a cold and cruelly manipulative stepmother. While Niang treated all of her stepchildren as secondclass citizens, the full power of her wrath was unleashed on Adeline. Her only refuge was in the arms of a beloved aunt who lavished affection and encouragement on the child. Despite her unhappiness, Adeline excelled at school and became a top student. As the Red Army approached in 1949, the family moved to Hong Kong. Adeline was shuttled off to boarding school in virtual isolation, forbidden visitors, mail, and all contact with her family. Burying herself in books, she dreamed of freedom and a new life. Told in her own words, the story of Adeline¿s valiant, painful, and ultimately triumphant struggle toward adulthood and independence unfolds with stunning emotional power. Falling Leaves is a haunting and unforgettable tale of people caught in the swirl of events beyond their control, buoyed by the indomitability of the human spirit.
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