Chinese Cinderella


By Ellery Campbell

Adeline Yen Mah starts out as a little girl who is burdened with guilt connected with her mothers death who died from childbirth. She tries to forget about it but her family isn't helping. She's the unwanted, unloved daughter that no one notices unless she gets good grades, is leading her class, or talking to her one true friend, Aunt Baba. Then, her dad gets remarried to a French-Chinese woman called Niang. Now Adeline is the worthless, unwanted, unloved, unappreciated stepdaughter and stepsister to 3 new family members.  


Sweet little Adeline tries hard to get her family to notice her but because everyone thinks she's bad luck, she can't seem to get on anyone's good side. The only people who care are her Aunt Baba and her Yee Yee (grandpa). Her siblings Big Brother, Big Sister, Second Brother, and Third Brother get mad and jealous when Adeline leads her kindergarten class all year. Then her father gets remarried and when she thought things could not get any worse, her stepmother says "I do".

Adeline skips grades and gets straight As but no one seems to notice or even care about her. She could go away to college and no one would look for her. So she tries even harder but Niang and her father could care less. They don't want to take care of her anymore and think that her sweet Aunt Baba is being a bad influence. Their solution is to send her off to boarding school, where she exceeds higher than she ever did in her classes. Her grandpa Yee Yee dies with the memory of her succeeding and leaves her life with encouraging words.  Because of her Yee Yee, she decides to start following her dreams and begs her father if she may accompany Third brother to England. Her father finally agrees but on one condition, that she must study medicine instead of learning literature like she wants. Too excited to even think Adeline agrees, later writing her own autobiography.


Adeline and her unappreciative family travel many places but the two main sets in the story are Tianjin and Shanghai, China. Tianjin is her hometown so the beginning of the story is mostly set there, besides her school. Then, as she gets older, her father and stepmother move to Shanghai, which is where she goes to a brand new school and meets her first best friend Wu-meh. But the biggest, supporting set of the story is her schools. But towards the end of the story her family moves to Hong Kong as the communists start invading Tianjin and Shanghai.  

About the Author

The author's name is Adeline Yen Mah. She wrote this story because she loves to write.

"During my miserable childhood, my only escape was to immerse myself in reading. Gradually, the characters in my books became more real than my tormentors at home. They inspired me to write novels of my own, incorporating stories told to me by my teachers and classmates. While writing, I would forget my troubles and indulge in a world of my creation. Over there in fantasyland, the rules were fair and anything was possible."- Adeline Yen Mah

Adeline Yen Mah

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