Sunday, February 21, 2010
Life Story :[
Guyz! how are you? well me I'm fine.. My teacher assigned as to read the Falling Leaves by Adeline! and this story is quite interesting and dramatic..
FALLING LEAVES is a modern classic, one of those books that have to be read sooner or later, if for nothing else to be able to judge for oneself what the fuss is all about. It is the true story of a Chinese girl, born to a well-to-do Chinese family in pre-Communist China, who grows up through her childhood, adolescence and pre-adulthood in the successive regimes of Communism, the international settlements in Shanghai and World War II, the exile in Hong Kong and successively in America, and the hesitant return to a newly-opening-up China. However, the political upheavals are merely the backdrop to this story.
What Yen Mah is aching to tell is HER story, that of the fifth-born daughter who is believed to bring bad luck since her mother died giving birth to her. Her first few blissful years come to an end when her father marries Niang (step-mother), who from the start to the bitter end systematically neglects and emotionally tortures her step-children, with a sadistic predilection for Adeline, all the while blatantly preferring to them her two "real" children. The first part of the book relates the lonely and loveless childhood of Adeline, scorned not only by Niang and, through neglect, by her father, but also by her elder brothers and sisters, and by her two younger step-brother/sister. Her childhood is a roller-coaster of taunting, deliberate cruelty (albeit not physical) and character mutilation. Her only anchors of strength are her grandfather (who later dies) and her great-aunt Baba.
Even her pet bird, to whom she gets immeasurably attached, becomes a victim of Niang's obsessive hatred of the girl. The second part of the book covers Adeline's youth and middle age, from her medical studies in America ? where she gets her first whiff of freedom from The Family - to her three successive internships in different hospitals and different countries, her first doomed marriage to Byron, born of inexperience and naivete, her secrete liaison with a professor, and her second blissful marriage to Bob. All the while, even from afar, The Family makes its presence felt, in ever more subtle ways, insinuating its divisive influence into Adeline's adult life, and ending with Niang's final masterful manipulation of all her children.
FALLING LEAVES is not the kind of book I would usually opt for. The have-your-hanky-at-hand sob-stories are not my first choice, especially if they are true stories. (Yes, I confess - I know biographies are all the rage, but I'm afraid they're just not my cup of tea.) And as I mentioned above, what got me going on it was (apart from the constant nagging of friends who'd read it...) the morbid curiosity that the sated look of its readers aroused in me.
What was attracting such diverse readers to this book? Was there anything beneath the word-of-mouth phenomenon that has made this book's fame? I was surprised, though. I tried to hate this book... honestly I did! I smugly hoped I'd be able to write an op for dooyoo saying what utter crap this book was, yet another example of over-hyped sensational writing. Alas, I could not. I did not manage to hate it. On the contrary, like a persistent infection it grew on me the more I tried to shake it off. I read it in my spare time, between other reads, hoping the casualness of my reading and the span of time between reads would aid disinterest.
To no avail. I actually liked it. It wouldn't be my choice for Book of the Year, granted, but still it made for compulsive reading. And what better could you ask of a book, at the end of the d ay? Yen Mah's writing comes from the heart, its genuineness is felt with every word. While not being a story of outright violence and deprivation, it is a compelling story of emotional deprivation (perhaps even more damaging to a young defenseless child) and utter loneliness. No wonder the children's version of this book is called "Chinese Cinderella".
Posted by kimarodriguez at 11:41 PM