ISBN-13: 9780312384487
Publisher: Square Fish
Published: December 2008
240 pgs
Source: A gift from Joanna (Book Blogger Holiday Swap)

First of all, I want to thank Joanna again for sending American Born Chinese to me. I have been coveting this graphic novel for a while after reading so many glowing reviews on the blogosphere and after reading it for myself, I can now understand why this book deserves a shout out.

The first tale is about a Monkey King (also known as Sun Wukong in the original, classical Chinese novel, Journey to the West, but please do not confuse that with this graphic novel) who vows to be recognized as a deity after his embarrassment from admitting to the Heavenly Dinner Party because he is a monkey and does not wear shoes. He begins to master the various arts of kung-fu and in no time, he is all set to prove to the other deities that he could share the same ranks as them. Alas, he is being tested after his encounter with Tze-Yo-Tzuh, his creator, and the latter buries him in a mountain of rubbles for five hundred years.

The second tale is about an American Chinese boy named Jin Wang, whose purpose is to fit in after his family moved to a new neighbourhood. He met a fellow student, Wei Chen, who came from Taiwan and they became good friends after their exchange over a Transformers toy. Jin Wang also begins to fall in love with an American girl, Amelia but he is intimidated and feels he is not good enough for her and it does not help much when another classmate feels it is best of him to leave her alone.

Finally, the last tale is about the relationship between an American boy, Danny, and his Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee. You may wonder at this point why they are related in the first place, and that I would have to leave it to you to find out yourself because it is part of a plot setup and it involves major spoilers.

What I loved most about American Born Chinese is aside from the colourful illustrations and the great characterization, these three little (interlinked) stories convey the same message about finding one's identity and to love and to accept who you are. I think the good part of these stories is they are told in a light, humourous way without losing the topic. There are indications of racial stereotypes of the Chinese people but I think in a way it helps to create awareness of racism/stereotypes no matter what races we are. I absolutely loved the twist ending and thought how brilliant that is. I would recommend this to anyone who love a good story (and a good laugh).

Other reviews:
An Adventure in Reading
Bermudaonion's Weblog
Book Addiction
Book Nut
Books of Mee
Everyday Reads
Frenetic Reader
nothing of importance
Regular Rumminations
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
The Written World
The Book Zombie
Things Mean A Lot
Tripping Towards Lucidity
(Let me know if I missed yours.)

12 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    Great review, Melody! And very interesting too. I'm glad to see that you like the book :)

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Glad you liked your Swap book. I still need to read mine.

  3. Ana S. Says:

    I agree - the tone is light, and yet the themes are such important ones. I also agree about the use of stereotypes - it was risky to use them at all when the intention was to denounce them, but I think it worked.

  4. Jenny Says:

    I want to read this so much! My library keeps saying they've got it on order, and then they keep not getting it in. But I've heard wonderful things.

  5. I saw your great review on goodreads. I posted a brief but enthusiastic review here.

  6. The Bookworm Says:

    this sounds interesting, great review!
    it sounds like theres a worthwhile message in the stories.

  7. mee Says:

    Glad you liked it! I wasn't sure if I loved the twisted ending, but overall it was a fun AND important book :)

  8. Melody Says:

    Julia - Thanks, Julia! It sure is! :)

    Stacy - I hope you'll read and enjoy your Swap book! :)

    Nymeth - Yes, I totally agree with you there. I hope to read more of Gene Luen Yang's books in the near future.

    Jenny - I hope your library will have this book soon!

    Alison - Thanks for the link! :)

    Naida - Thanks, Naida! I like reading books which contain some messages in it. We've so much to learn.

    Mee - Initially I was perplexed with the twisted ending but I think it worked well overall. :)

  9. Violet Says:

    I read your review on GoodReads yesterday and really liked it. This is one book that I was not sure I wanted to read. But now I guess I have to add it to my Wishlist

  10. Melody Says:

    Violet - Thanks, Violet! I'm glad to hear you're adding this book onto your wishlist! I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to it. :)

  11. Alice Says:

    I've heard good things about this too. Glad you enjoyed it, Melody! :D

  12. Iliana Says:

    This is one I can't believe I haven't read yet. Hopefully I can fit it in with my graphic novel challenge! Glad you enjoyed Melody. Loved your review.

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