Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chinese Cinderella

Chinese Cinderella: The True/Secret Story of an Unwanted Daughter, Adeline Yen Mah
A number of young women and grown women have recommended this book to me.  I wanted to pick it up when I had something that could brighten me up after it was done.  Even with the promise that comes with linking a memoir to "Cinderella," I knew I was to become acquainted with hardship.  I was sure the story would deeply effect me for the duration of my reading, and beyond.  Correct.

I've seen some scathing reviews which take issue with the author's suggestion of neglect in a narrative simultaneously expressing privilege.  I get pretty angry reading those reviews. They are right, Yen Mah had some privilege...in relation to physical provisions and education.  But Yen Mah was deprived love, security, inclusion and protection.  We shouldn't compare people's hardships!  And if people insist upon doing so, then Yen Mah was deprived the things that matter most.  Yes, her household had a cook.  Yes, she went to school.  But she was emotionally and psychologically tormented for her entire childhood, told she was worthless, and forced to endure heart-aching cruelty and spite.  I also refuse to believe anyone's social condition qualifies or disqualifies sharing his or her personal story. 

As to the quality of the prose, I was carried away by it.  The power is in the details.  Although I was never overwhelmed by poetic language I was regularly impressed by Yen Mah's discerning articulation.  I was captivated by the specifics.

In terms of content, there is nothing so horrific that I would hesitate to recommend it to young adult readers (something I cannot always say with memoirs apparently intended for this audience).  It isnt' easy to hear of course, but none of it is offensive to the spirit, just saddening. 

I'm on a roll with audio books lately.  I listened to this story via my library's digital collection.  This edition is read by the author.  More than once, Yen Mah's voice wavers as she recounts the abuses endured.  It was incredible to consume it this way.  I highly recommend it.
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