Book Review: Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

By Ally

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter, an autobiography of Adeline Yen Mah, is very literally the story of a Chinese Cinderella. From the start, Adeline was considered bad luck and unworthy by her own family, since her birth resulted in the death of her mother. Ever since her father remarried to another woman named Niang, who was half-French and half-Chinese, Adeline’s world turned upside down as she desired for the love of her family.

The story takes place during World War II, which forced Adeline and her family to move from their home in Tianjin to Shanghai for their safety. Adeline, to her siblings and stepmother’s rage, was a high performer in school, winning many medals and awards for her academic excellence, unlike any of her siblings. Niang, who had already taken over the family, treated her biological children with love and concern while treating her stepchildren harshly. School was the only place where Adeline truly felt accepted by her peers and teachers. Although Adeline lived a very cruel life outside of school, she still found comfort in some things, like her small duckling named PLT (Precious Little Treasure). However, those special things in her life were always taken away from her, leaving her alone and helpless.

One day, her friends from school came over to Adeline’s house to celebrate her election of the class president as a surprise. Niang, furious with rage, beat Adeline until she bleeds, and punished her by sending her to a boarding school back in Tianjin. As Adeline grew up through the rest of the book, she learned the meaning of perseverance and the idea that “one single positive dream is more important than a thousand negative realities.”

Adeline’s story is a powerful one about feeling unwanted and being resilient during hard times. Through an intense story plot and real-life events, the award-winning Chinese Cinderella inspires many other Cinderellas in the world.

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah, Ember; Edition Unstated edition (September 14, 2010), 240 pp.

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