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Chinese Cinderella :  The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter - Adeline Yen Mah

Chinese Cinderella

The Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter

Paperback Published: 2nd August 1999
ISBN: 9780141304878
Number Of Pages: 256
For Ages: 11 - 19 years old

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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 true story of her struggle for acceptance and her triumph against almost overwhelming odds.

About The Author

Adeline Yen Mah lives in California after growing up in Tianjin and Shanghai, in China, Hong Kong and England. She studied medicine but gave up her career as a physician to become a full-time writer. After the death of her stepmother, she felt compelled to write her story and the result, Falling Leaves, has become an international best-seller.

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Chinese Cinderella

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Top of the Class

Autumn, 1941.

As soon as I got home from school, Aunt Baba noticed the silver medal dangling from the left breast-pocket of my uniform. She was combing her hair in front of the mirror in our room when I rushed in and plopped my school-bag down on my bed.

'What's that hanging on your dress?'

'It's something special that Mother Agnes gave me in front of the whole class this afternoon. She called it an award.'

My aunt looked thrilled. 'So soon? You only started kindergarten one week ago. What is it for?'

'It's for topping my class this week. When Mother Agnes pinned it on my dress, she said I could wear it for seven days. Here, this certificate goes with it.' I opened my school-bag and handed her an envelope as I climbed onto her lap.

She opened the envelope and took out the certificate.

'Why, it's all written in French or English or some other foreign language. How do you expect me to read this, my precious little treasure?' I knew she was pleased because she was smiling as she hugged me. 'One day soon,' she continued, 'you'll be able to translate all this into Chinese for me. Until then, we'll just write today's date on the envelope and put it away somewhere safe. Go close the door properly and put on the latch so no one will come in.'

I watched her open her closet door and take out her safe-deposit box. She took the key from a gold chain around her neck and placed my certificate underneath her jade bracelet, pearl necklace and diamond watch – as if my award were also some precious jewel impossible to replace.

As she closed the lid, an old photograph fell out. I picked up the faded picture and saw a solemn young man and woman, both dressed in old-fashioned Chinese robes. The man looked rather familiar.

'Is this a picture of my father and dead mama?' I asked.

'No. This is the wedding picture of your grandparents. Your Ye Ye was twenty-six and your Nai Nai was only fifteen.' She quickly took the photo from me and locked it in her box.

'Do you have a picture of my dead mama?'

She avoided my eyes. 'No. But I have wedding pictures of your father and stepmother Niang. You were only one year old when they married. Do you want to see them?'

'No. I've seen those before. I just want to see one of my own mama. Do I look like her?' Aunt Baba did not reply, but busied herself putting the safe-deposit box back into her closet. After a while I said, 'When did my mama die?'

'Your mother came down with a high fever three days after you were born. She died when you were two weeks old …' She hesitated for a moment, then exclaimed suddenly, 'How dirty your hands are! Have you been playing in that sand-box at school again? Go wash them at once! Then come back and do your homework!'

I did as I was told. Though I was only four years old, I understood I should not ask Aunt Baba too many questions about my dead mama. Big Sister once told me, 'Aunt Baba and Mama used to be best friends. A long time ago, they worked together in a bank in Shanghai owned by our Grand Aunt, the youngest sister of Grandfather Ye Ye. But then Mama died giving birth to you. If you had not been born, Mama would still be alive. She died because of you. You are bad luck.'

ISBN: 9780141304878
ISBN-10: 0141304871
Series: Chinese Cinderella
Audience: Children
For Ages: 11 - 19 years old
For Grades: 7 - 9
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 2nd August 1999
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.24
Edition Number: 1

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