The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter The story of an unwanted Chinese daughter growing up during the Communist Revolution, blamed for her mother's death, ignored by her millionaire father and unwanted by her Eurasian step mother. A story of greed, hatred and jealousy; a domestic drama is played against the extraordinary political events in China and Hong Kong. Written with the emotional force of a novel but with a vividness drawn from a personal and political background, Falling Leaves has been an enduring bestseller all over the world. Adeline Yen Mah. Adeline Yen Mah was born in Tianjin, China but subsequently lived in both Shanghai and Hong Kong before leaving - at age fourteen - to study in England.

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What does it mean in the context of her story? Why do you think she chose this point in time to start her story? How does it set the tone for the book? The author consistently gives the Chinese character, the phonetic spelling, and the English translation when using Chinese phrases.

Why do you think she does this? What does it say about her, and how does it affect you? Was there any happiness for her? What strategies does she use to cope with the situation and who aided her in those efforts? How would you have reacted in similar circumstances? Discuss the social hierarchy of the Yen household. How did Adeline fit in? How about Ye Ye and Aunt Baba?

Of the many instances of cruelty that Adeline faced as a child, which ones affected you most strongly? How about with her grandfather Ye Ye? What factors motivated this change? Why was medical school such an appropriate place for her?

How did the author change during her stay in Britain? How is she different? How is she the same? How does this affect her career path? How does it affect her relationship with her father and stepmother? Discuss these changes and what brought them about. Why do you think the author became involved with Karl and Byron?

Why do these relationships turn out the way they do? What about her relationship with Bob? Compare and contrast them. Throughout the story Adeline comes across as a remarkable individual. She is possessed of remarkable strength, resilience, and compassion.

Is there any precedent for this in her family? Discuss how the members of the family react to them. How are they different? How are they similar? Why is this? Even after her death she still is trying to manipulate the children. To what degree is she victorious? To what degree does she fail and why? What is your final impression of Niang and of her children? How do you think they came to be this way? To what degree is this account of an abusive childhood universal?

Would the events be different if they were to occur in another society? If so, how? Compare the story to Cinderella. If that is so, then I am rich indeed. How have these memoirs influenced modern storytelling? In what ways do these stories inspire writers and readers alike? Share: Share on Facebook. Add to Cart.

But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative Eurasian stepmother. Determined to survive through her enduring faith in family unity, Adeline struggled for independence as she moved from Hong Kong to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer. With a powerful voice that speaks of the harsh realities of growing up female in a family and society that kept girls in emotional chains, Falling Leaves is a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare authentic portrait of twentieth-century China.

Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Falling Leaves is her first book. Recently she completed her second, a book for children entitled Chinese Cinderella , which will be published by Dell in October Adeline is dedicating both books to unwanted children in the hope that they will persist to do their best in the face of despair, to believe that in the end their spirit will prevail, and to nurture their childhood traumas into a source of courage, creativity, and compassion.

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Falling Leaves Reader’s Guide

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date. For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now. Javascript is not enabled in your browser. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. The emotionally wrenching yet ultimately uplifting memoir of a Chinese woman struggling to win the love and acceptance of her family.


Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter

She is married to Professor Robert A. Mah with whom she has a daughter, and a son from a previous marriage. She has stated in Falling Leaves that she did not use the real names of her siblings and their spouses to protect their identities but she did, however, use the real names of her father, stepmother, aunt and husband, while referring to her paternal grandparents only by the Chinese terms 'Ye Ye' and 'Nai Nai'. They had two children, Franklin and Susan Jun-qing. Her legal birthday is 30 November, as her father did not record her date of birth and instead he gave her his own a common practice prior to the establishment of the People's Republic of China in Two weeks after her birth, her mother died of puerperal fever and according to traditional Chinese beliefs, Yen Mah was called 'bad luck' by the rest of her family and because of this, treated harshly throughout her childhood. Two months later, her Aunt Baba and Susan arrived the former two delayed moving to observe the hundred days' mourning period for Ye Ye.



What does it mean in the context of her story? Why do you think she chose this point in time to start her story? How does it set the tone for the book? The author consistently gives the Chinese character, the phonetic spelling, and the English translation when using Chinese phrases.

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