Falling Leaves

falling-leaves

Synopsis

Snow White’s stepmother looks like a pussycat compared to the monster under which Adeline Yen Mah suffered. The author’s memoir of life in mainland China and–after the 1949 revolution–Hong Kong is a gruesome chronicle of nonstop emotional abuse from her wealthy father and his beautiful, cruel second wife. Chinese proverbs scattered throughout the text pithily covey the traditional world view that prompted Adeline’s subservience. Had she not escaped to America, where she experienced a fulfilling medical career and a happy marriage, her story would be unbearable; instead, it’s grimly fascinating: Falling Leaves is an Asian Mommie Dearest.