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Review: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax–and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

My Blurb (4.5 stars)

I have this terrible habit of NOT reading the book’s blurb… sometimes, I’d just pick up a book and started reading. Most times, it doesn’t really  matter but I think this time, it would’ve helped because I got so confused with the different strands of stories and wondered why the book is so choppy but then I got totally sucker-punched by the ending.

One of the stories is about The Monkey King. If you’re Chinese or grew up in Asia, you’d definitely cannot avoid him. It is essential childhood stories. You want to be Monkey King for he’s basically the Asian superhero. He had his faults, of course, and all the stories were really about him learning from his mistakes. So, this author has basically taken a mythological character all Asians will know and can identify with and spun a story with a direct moral lesson.

And then, he applies it to our modern circumstances. Being Chinese in a Caucasian world… hating to stand out because you just look so different from everyone else & wanting to look just like everybody else with all that entails. This is something I can totally identify with; something I’ve learnt to live with. And when the 3 disparate stories were brought a point together, my heart broke.

Truthfully, I didn’t think I need to read this book but now that I have (I borrowed a copy from the library), I will be buying a copy for my boys to read because they are ABCs (Australian born Chinese) and will probably struggle through some aspect of being different.

About the author

Gene Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received the Xeric Grant, a prestigious comics industry grant, for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks, his first comics work as an adult. He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including Duncan’s Kingdom (with art by Derek Kirk Kim) and The Rosary Comic Book. American Born Chinese received National Book Award.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his lovely wife and children and teaches at a Roman Catholic high school.

Find Gene on:  website  |  goodreads  |  twitter  |  facebook

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