Adeline Yen Mah had a traumatic upbringing. As a child, she was raised by her cruel stepmother, abused and neglected. Later, when her father died, this same stepmother kept Adeline from reading his will until two years after his death, at which point she discovered that she had been disinherited. Years later, she immigrates to America and begins her literary career.
It is this horrible background that Yen Mah's autobiography Falling Leaves recounts in order to be the fantastic literary work that it is considered to be.
Falling Leaves was published in 1997, Yen Mah having been inspired to write it by the then recent publication of Jung Chang's memoir Wild Swans. It it an autobiographical account of her upbringing and immigration. The success of the book prompted Yen Mah to cease her practicing medicine and devote the majority of her time to writing.
Upon its release, Falling Leaves immediately received high praise from critics and the public alike, and quickly took up residence upon the New York Times Bestseller list. Because of its rapid success, the autobiography was translated into a total of 22 languages, including Chinese for the Taiwanese market. A unique characteristic of this particular translation is that unlike many other novels, it was translated by the auther herself. She believed that she would be able to adapt it more accurately due to the specific and honed message of the novel, along with the complexity of the Chinese language.
Adeline Yen Mah wrote Falling Leaves in an attempt to create an improved understanding between the East and the West. With the proceeds from the book, Yen Mah later founded the Falling Leaves Foundation, having the same goal as she possessed when composing the novel.
In 1999, Adeline Yen Mah published an abridged version of Falling Leaves, entitled Chinese Cinderella. Unlike the original, Chinese Cinderella received many awards, including the Lamplighter's Award from National Christian School Association for Contribution to Exceptional Children's Literature in June 2002.