American Panda by Gloria Chao
Published: February 6, 2018
Length: 311 Pages
An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.
With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.
But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
My Thoughts: I Loved this book SO much!
I always feel that I connect so much more to books where the characters are either immigrants themselves or their parents are immigrants. It’s a different life when you have to balance cultures. This book really shows those struggles.
Mei is doing what she feels she should do because of guilt. When you have parents that have been through so much and moved to the United States to give you a better chance at life, you do become overwhelmed with the feeling that you cannot fail. I connected with that.
For me the story was wonderful. Heartbreaking in some parts, and just made the characters seem real. I see many reviews from white Americans that say this is a stereotype, but it’s not. It happens with many immigrant families because typically immigrants have to work twice as hard sometimes three times as hard to get the same respect and privileges of white Americans.
People’s experiences aren’t tropes.
I think Gloria Chao wrote a real book, and finally, a YA novel that isn’t about a high school student. Mei is in University and struggling with what she should be doing with her life. I think Mei also had a great sense of humor and I just really enjoyed this contemporary read.
It reminds me of my own WIP, and it’s inspired me to finish proper edits and get my story out there as well.
I gave this book Five out Five Metal Horns!
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