Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah



Title: Chinese Cinderella: The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter
Author: Adeline Yen Mah
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: BiographiesNon-fiction, True stories
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: Big Sister and our two older brothers knew her better than I did.

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‘Tell me what my real mama looked like. I can’t picture her face.’
‘There are no photographs of her,’ said Aunt Baba… ‘Your father ordered all her photographs destroyed.’

When Adeline Yen Mah’s mother died giving birth to her, the family considered Adeline bad luck and she was made to feel unwanted all her life. Chinese Cinderella is the story of her struggle for acceptance and how she overcame the odds to prove her worth.


If you want a happy, cheerful biography that has some mild ups and downs, but in the end is a tale of happiness and love… this isn’t for you. Quite frankly, it’s depressing. But in this brutally honest, depressing tale, there is light, hope and strength. It is a stark reminder that regardless of the horrors of childhood, we can be true to ourselves. Regardless of what others want and expect from us. For some, it is impossible to break them, even though they are bent until they almost snap.

Although this story is horrifying in the abuse and mistreatment, the lack of love from Adeline’s father and step-mother is still offset by the love that her grandparents and aunt show her. The fact that eventually this is removed from her is another travesty in a life that is barely touched by light. However, at no point, is Adeline bitter or resentful, simply saddened. Her reflections of her childhood show a period of great loneliness and fear that plucks at every single heart string.

The story only ends when a brilliant young Adeline is finally able to attend University, and although the epilogue does reveal some of her eventual future, it leaves a lot of her later life open. Although you can feel the pain and isolation through her words, there is a need to know more about her adult life in England. Luckily, there is another book, Falling Leaves, that encompasses more of her life and tale.

<- The Autobiography of Malcolm X ReviewFalling Leaves Review ->
Image source: Wikipedia

5 thoughts on “Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

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