American Panda by Gloria Chao: A Book Review

Title: American PandaAmerican Panda
Author: Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: 6 February 2018

Publisher Summary – American Panda

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 notTaiwanese.

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?

From debut author, Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

My Book Review

Wow! Gloria Chao’s debut novel, American Panda, was an emotional ride and I loved every minute. I want to keep this review short and sweet because I think everyone should experience this book for themselves. That being said, this novel is a beautiful, tearful, yet comedic contemporary about letting your truth free in the face of cultural and familial expectations.

Books with and about people of other cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, etc. are so important. They give a voice to these groups and helps us as human beings and as a community to understand and learn from each other. American Panda is an amazing addition to the ever-expanding list of diverse books.

Even with the focus on Asian-American culture, everyone can learn from Mei’s journey. I really enjoyed reading about a character that was feeling some of the same feelings that I am having about who I am and what I’m meant to do in life. If you are struggling with family, friends, self-discovery or general life, I suggest cracking open this book. Join Mei as she begins her new life as a college student at MIT, and sit in the passenger seat as her struggles, between what her family wants for her future and what Mei wants for her future, unfold. It’s a wild ride, but I have no doubt you will enjoy it.

As far as I’m aware, American Panda is a standalone novel, but I would love to see the story continue…perhaps from Darren’s point of view!

~ WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS ~

I hope you enjoyed this review. One of my goals for this year is to add more diverse books to my shelf this year. So, I would love to hear what your favorite diverse books and authors are in the comments.

Live Yourself Happy

Kimberly

 

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