This was the most devastating book I have ever read! This is the story about the torturous life of a little Chinese girl. When she was born, her mother had a serious fever and died. From then on, she was treated as the ‘bad luck child’. Things got worse when she was four years old. Her father remarried, and her step-mother was cruel, barely even noticing her.
Time passed until her first week of kindergarten where she was honored to be the ‘best student of the week.’ She got this award week after week, month after month. Nobody congratulated her except for her kind aunt. She and her aunt bonded and was the closest person to her. Her aunt comforted her when nobody cared about her. Then we learn the little girl’s name was Adeline. Her father was very rich, but little Adeline shared only a tiny room with her aunt. Unexpectedly, four of her siblings and her parents went on a trip. It lasted almost a year! When they were gone, it was paradise to be free of their strictness. However, when they returned, Adeline learned that she and her family were moving to Shanghai. Adeline was devastated.
In Shanghai, she attended a fantastic school and made a friend. This became her new home where she felt most comfortable. However, her step-mother prevented any friends from coming over. Adeline’s home life was horrible because she lived on the third floor of the house in one room with all of her siblings. The second floor was just for her new mom and father and their step children who received all of the attention. No one from the third floor was allowed to enter the second floor. During this part of the book, Adeline truly felt abandoned. This reminded me of the song “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. It is as if Adeline had fallen into that ring of fire.
As depressing as Adeline’s life was, there is a bright spot in which she felt she could accomplish anything and escape her past. The author does a great job engaging the reader. If this book was turned into a film, during the credits the song “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner should be played. It really depicts Adeline’s interactions with her cruel step-mother, Niang. I really liked this book but was frightened to know that this is a true story. The author, Adeline Yen Mah, lived this life and survived.
-Maya S., 6th grade