Born in Tianjin (a port city a thousand miles north of Shanghai) in 1937, Adeline was the fifth child, but her mother died of complications after giving birth. Her father remarried a beautiful, imperious, and spoiled woman of half-Chinese, half-French heritage who proceeded to turn him into an unfeeling brute as well as make the children's life a hell. She had two children of her own but was just as inconsistent and mean-spirited with them as with her step-kids. Although the father runs a wildly successful import-export business that survives the Japanese occupation and transforms itself into other businesses in Hong Kong after the Communist takeover, the children are kept on a tight lead with little spending money. And even though Adeline eventually escapes to the U.S. to study medicine and become a doctor, the changing alliances and continuing betrayals in the family haunt her life, even into the 1990s. This is a decently written if deeply upsetting memoir of a brave and indomitable spirit.
This report prepared by David Loftus