Born in 1937 in a port city a thousand miles north of Shanghai, Adeline Yen Mah was the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family who enjoyed rare privileges during a time of political and cultural upheaval. But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative 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.
A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl’s journey into adulthood, Adeline’s story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding. 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.
“I read for two nights, sleepless, my heart pierced by Adeline Yen Mah’s account of her terrible childhood. Falling Leavesis a potent psychological drama pitting a stubborn little girl against the most merciless of adversaries and rivals: her own family. I am still haunted by Mah’s memoir.” —Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
“Painful and lovely, at once heartbreaking and heartening.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
“Brilliant, compelling, and unforgettable. A heartrending modern-day Cinderella story set against the turbulence of twentieth-century China. Autobiography at its best.” —Nien Chang, author of Life and Death in Shanghai