Last term our class studied Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah. It is Adeline’s story, about her tough and horrible childhood as a neglected and unloved daughter of a rich and arrogant man, and a cruel, and abusive Stepmother. Right from the moment her mother died, Adeline was labelled as ‘bad luck’. Her family was very superstitious and believed she caused her mothers death so was therefore despised, no one wanted her around at all.
Unfortunately for Adeline she didn’t really have any parents, her father loathed her as she had supposedly killed his beloved wife, and now she no longer had a mother so she was taken care of by her Aunt Baba who lived with the family at the time. Aunt Baba was the only real family Adeline had when she was young, but was grateful that she had an Aunt has wonderful as hers.
A great moment I found in this book that showed the connection between Aunt Baba and Adeline and the close relationship that they have, was the time when Adeline came home from kindergarten one afternoon with a medal and a certificate, her Aunt was so proud of her and Adeline just seemed so excited and happy because for once she felt like someone cared for her. Her aunt opened her safe keep box that she kept secretly away and put the certificate away with the rest of her treasures.
I think its wonderful how her Aunt cares for her niece like that when she doesn’t even have to, and it proves how much of a kind-hearted person Aunt Baba really is. Through out reading this book, I’ve noticed how Adeline changes, in the beginning she is a curious, smart and loving little girl, but towards the end of the story she gets a little more depressed and lonely. She is annoyed at the way her parents treat her but she puts up with it because she knows the consequences if she was to speak out. Adeline enjoyed being at school more than she enjoyed being at home, she felt like she belonged there and she loved it more than anything else.
She was treated fairly and equally, everyone accepted her the way they accepted everyone else, she didn’t feel like an outcast or alone anymore. She was a very lively yet shy little girl and was loved by everyone she met except for her family of course. But then Adeline was then moved to live in Shanghai after her Nai-Nai passed away. When they arrived in Shanghai, Adeline was beginning to feel displaced again because she was forced to live on a different floor of the house than everyone else because Niang was now in charge again. This was when her life started to get worse and worse.
Niang was handling Adeline’s life far more dreadful than anyone else’s. She made sure that Adeline and her siblings were punished terribly if they dare did something wrong. Adeline was getting quite upset about the way her parents were behaving towards her, but she handled it in her own way, just staying calm and quiet but raging inside, accepting that this was the way it was going to be. Adeline became happier when she joined sacred heart (sheng Xin) school in first grade. She made friends with a sporty and athletic girl named Wu chun mei and also became elected class president.
Unlucky for Adeline, Niang didn’t like this at all because Adeline had actually achieved something on her own and Niang was realising how loved and appreciated she really was. Adeline was not permitted to have friends over or go to friends houses under her stepmothers instructions. She was only allowed to eat whatever was put in front of her at dinner times and was not allowed snacks in-between meals. She could not enter certain parts of the house without permission and she was forbidden to talk to fourth brother and little sister.
An easier way of putting that, is that Niang did not approve of Adeline having fun of any kind. But this made Adeline stronger and more independent, as she learnt to do things on her own that other children normally would do with their parents. I don’t think she liked being left out and treated differently when she’s at home but she learned to cope with it and in a way she sort of had her own little world around her where she would dream of things that she would never be able to do in real life that way she could still keep herself hopeful and entertained. She has a very vivid imagination and is smart and brave.
She was always top of the class and received a ton of awards for best academic student. Her classmates looked up to her but she never seemed to understand why. She thought of herself as a poor, dirty unloved child because that was the influence she was getting from her family, but her friends and her Aunt and grandfather believed that she would go places one day. When she was younger, her goal was to get her Parents and her family to love her and appreciate her but after she had won so many awards and certificates then she realised what potential she had and started to focus on her studies a bit more.
Her grandfather enlightened her on the all of the amazing possibilities and opportunities in the world and how she could also have them someday if she worked hard enough. She changed a lot when Ye-Ye passed away, she grew more and more intelligent and hardworking as she was determined to make her grandfather proud. She had a lot of encouragement and a lot of discouragement through the years but she chose to listen to the people that were cheering her on, like her grandfather and her Aunt Baba and Wu chun-mei, because she, just like anyone else, would obviously decide to follow the rewarding and successful path in life.
Adeline decides that since her childhood has been a mess and a disaster she doesn’t want it to carry on this way so she is doing good things in her life and makes a change. She wins the play writing competition and dedicates her play to Ye-Ye and gets the opportunity of a lifetime to attend school in England with her brother. I could only Imagine how excited and overwhelmed she must’ve been when she heard that her father was so proud of her. She reached both of her goals in life which made her very pleased with herself and her outstanding achievements.
One thing I learnt from Adeline Yen Mah is that no matter how hard it is, and no matter how tough life might seem, as long as you try your best it all pays off in the end. Chapter 15: Boarding School in Tianjin Without explaining where she was going, Niang and her father drove her to St. Joseph’s School, where she previously attended kindergarten. She was there again, but this time as a boarder. Sadly, when her father had to fill out papers for the flight to Tianjin, he couldn’t remember her name or her birth date.
Neither her father or Niang said good-bye. The next morning she woke up in the bright room and met Nancy Chen, who was in the bed next to her. Nancy’s mother asked what was wrong with Adeline’s parents leaving a child alone in a dangerous situation—the Communists would soon be invading. That explained to Adeline why the large school only had a couple of hundred students. After a few months, Adeline remained the only student at St Josephs. All the students had fled with their families to escape the communists.
Adeline hoped that she would wake up one morning and her parents were there to collect her to take her home, but then she didn’t know if that would be worse. The way her family just left her there all by herself is appaulling and it’s a very memorable moment in the book for me because I think that if I was in Adeline’s situation, I would be extremely terrified. No one there to play with or talk to, that would drive me crazy. The anxiety of worrying when the communists were going to come along and take you away. Sitting there alone everyday curious to know if anyone actually cared about you anymore, if you were even remembered?
When her father forgot her name, that was probably the worst thing a parent could’ve done, whilst on his way to dropping her off at boarding school forever. I felt terrible for Adeline, she has never had her parents there to support her and her father doesn’t even know her name or birthday. A life without loving Parents is possibly the worse life you could have. You need your mum to read you bed time stories and tuck you into bed at night and you need your dad to teach you how to ride a bike and be proud of you.
She still has parents but if they are willing to leave you at a boarding school all by yourself when there are soldiers coming, then I don’t think they make good parents at all. The worst part about this chapter is when she is playing with a basketball in the playground by herself, and a teacher runs into the playground and calls to Adeline “ Adeline your Aunt is here to take you back to Hong Kong with her on her ship”. She was standing there with her heart racing 1000 beats per second thinking is it true? Could she really be here? The one person Adeline cares about, has come to rescue her, this is like a dream come true for her.
She sprints across the playground as fast her tiny feet could carry her, and stops to find a stranger. She would‘ve been so confused, isn’t this meant to be my Aunt? She is thinking. The disappointment would’ve been unbearable. Gone from being so excited to the biggest let down ever in a second. Even I was getting excited for her, I thought wow this could be her chance to escape and start fresh, with her lovely Aunt the one that has always been her best friend. I instantly imagined her and her Aunt Baba on a beautiful ship sailing across the sea far away from everyone else.
But then everything changed, when I read on to see that it was Niangs Sister and then I got a whole different picture in my head, of poor Adeline living the rest of her life away in a dark and dingy dungeon taking orders from the dreadful Niang again. It started to feel like she actually was Cinderella. I thought that was one of the most dreadful parts of this whole story. It felt like it was the part where Adeline was forgotten and abandoned. If that was to ever happen to me one day, I would be grateful that I read Chinese Cinderella because I would do exactly what Adeline did, hope, pray and try my hardest to reach success.
Courtney from Study Moose
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