|Name: Tang Wing Yan
The 28th Annual Book Report Competition for Secondary School Students
Title: A Chinese Cinderella
Author: Adeline Yen Mah
‘A Chinese Cinderella’ by Adeline Yen Mah is an autobiography about her life and childhood. She was born into a wealthy family in Tianjin, thus she went to school to study and learn.
In the 1930’s Tianjin was a port city on the north east coast of China. Adeline’s mother came down with a high fever three days after Adeline was born and died when she was only two weeks old. After this her family looked upon her as an ominous person, including her own brother and sister.
Her father married another woman who became the children’s stepmother in this big family. She also disliked Adeline. She did not allow Adeline to have dinner with them. In addition, Adeline lived with her grandmother and her aunt as the latter had been ordered to take care of her. From an early age Adeline slept in a cot in her room.
Once, when Adeline had finished her dinner, she ate her dragon fruits, which were her favourite. Her older brother joined with the other siblings to take her dragon fruit away from her. Adeline cried loudly but no one helped her. At that moment, her father came out of the bedroom and discovered that Adeline was crying but he paid no attention to her. So, her brother treated Adeline even worse. He squeezed Adeline’s hands so tightly and caused her great pain.
When Adeline reached the age where she could go to school she studied in a boarding school and she could only go home at holidays. She could only write letters to stay in touch with her family. She studied very hard in order to make her father proud. She was always top of the class.
Adeline’s childhood was miserable. She wanted to be a writer, but her father said she must become a doctor. Her father asked her if she wanted to go to the United Kingdom to study medicine she replied she would go and study with her brother. Eventually she became a doctor but not without many struggles.
After reading this book I think Adeline was very poor, but lucky. If I were Adeline I do not think I would be able to bear my siblings treating me as a stranger. I would prefer to leave home and be independent despite not being able to take good care of myself I would still want to leave a family where no one loved me. Although she was born into what became a broken family she learnt and studied in a good environment. Her school was a famous boarding school, which enabled her to learn important knowledge. In the century when she was born, the only girls who were able to study were those from nobility or if the family was very rich.
I am very lucky that I was born in the 21st century because the ideas of people have changed especially regarding the status of women. They have realized that everyone is equal so there is less sexual discrimination. Every child born in Hong Kong has the right and opportunity to study. The Government carries out measures to help all children to be educated for twelve years for free until they make it to university. Although children in Hong Kong have this chance, in the wider world many children do not have such an opportunity as their governments are corrupt, too poor or the country is not developed. Reading this autobiography has made me realize the need to cherish all the things that I have the right to. I need to work harder just like Adeline did if I do not want to be useless in the future
We cannot choose whether our family will like us or not as this is our destiny and although we cannot change our destiny we can use our effort to change our future. We can change how we react to our destiny. This autobiography taught me to fight hard for an excellent future.