American Panda

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 bri...

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Title:American Panda
Author:Gloria Chao
Rating:
Edition Language:English

American Panda Reviews

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    And a boost to a five, because I can't look at myself anymore for giving this a four.

    is ownvoices contemporary fic about a Taiwanese-American girl str

    And a boost to a five, because I can't look at myself anymore for giving this a four.

    is ownvoices contemporary fic about a Taiwanese-American girl struggling with her strict parents and with trying to carve her own path. And holy crap. It’s awesome.

    is chiefly a character study. This is a book that would fail without being underpinned by some freaking fantastic character development, and holy crap, is it.

    Her journey feels

    because she is

    - Mei works through germaphobia, her passion for dance, her relationship with her brother, and her relationship with Japanese Darren all at once. She even learns to work through her own prejudices against her roomnate, whose name I have somehow forgotten despite how much I love her character, and Ying-Na, whose purpose I will not spoil.

    The narrative of this book is perfectly balanced between exploring Mei’s struggle with strict parents and not condemming her cultural values as the cause of those parent issues. Gloria Chao is so quick to remind the readership that

    It’s so… subtly drawn. The story of

    works because it feels so effortless and

    , as if it’s coming straight out of the author’s heart. Gloria Chao's author’s note explictly says this is her personal story, but it’s unecessary:

    I’d honestly say the lead character’s development and the subtlety of the story is the best part, but there are so many moving parts helping the buildup. The perfect balance between comedy and dark elements. The pacing - I found the beginning a bit dull, but it picks up speed quickly. The relationship between Mei and Darren being basically the cutest thing. The focus on Mei's relationship with her brother, Xing. The relationship between Mei and her mom, which basically single-handedly makes

    worth the read.

    A part of me lowkey wants to give this a five and I am

    guys, you know I've been trying to read less contemporary because I'm so picky about it, but this...

    is going to be one of the best contemporaries of 2018. I never know how to do justice to personal stories like this one, but I can’t recommend this enough.

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  • Amy Leigh

    I loved this! It's well-written and engaging. I couldn't put it down! There are some laugh out loud moments and times you wish you could reach in and give Mei a hug or a high five. (Not that she would like that.)

    Mei is a Taiwanese-American seventeen year old who is starting her freshman year at MIT. She tries so hard to appease her very traditional parents while her mother constantly speaks negatively about her. She hides her Japanese crush turned boyfriend from her parents because that is the w

    I loved this! It's well-written and engaging. I couldn't put it down! There are some laugh out loud moments and times you wish you could reach in and give Mei a hug or a high five. (Not that she would like that.)

    Mei is a Taiwanese-American seventeen year old who is starting her freshman year at MIT. She tries so hard to appease her very traditional parents while her mother constantly speaks negatively about her. She hides her Japanese crush turned boyfriend from her parents because that is the worst to them. She tries hard to hold on to her culture but to also be herself and understand that she needs to do what is best for her since it is her life.

    She has a very difficult roommate who becomes a much needed friend and Mei has a very genuine germ-phobia. Her older brother was disowned by their parents for not living up to their standards but she doesn't know what really happened until he pops back into Mei's life. She has to figure out where she wants to go with her life and if she can really become the doctor her parents want her to be or pursue other avenues.

    Update: re-read 4/10/18

    My original rating stands, I adore this book!

  • Fafa's Book Corner

    Omg this was so good!

    Going to be rereading this when it comes out.

  • emma

    Things that were absolutely full-on remarkable/fantastic/excellent/next-level/choose-your-own-positive-adjective about this book:

    - the representation

    - the character development

    - the family relationships

    This book is some of the best cultural representation I've ever. Read. In. My. LIFE. Our main character, Mei, is Taiwanese-American (the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants). The culture is so well-included it's unreal. So fascinating and intertwined with the lives of Mei and her family without being

    Things that were absolutely full-on remarkable/fantastic/excellent/next-level/choose-your-own-positive-adjective about this book:

    - the representation

    - the character development

    - the family relationships

    This book is some of the best cultural representation I've ever. Read. In. My. LIFE. Our main character, Mei, is Taiwanese-American (the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants). The culture is so well-included it's unreal. So fascinating and intertwined with the lives of Mei and her family without being character-defining. I LOVED. More representation like this pleaaaaase.

    Mei's character development is also unbelievable. It's so smooth you barely even notice it as it's happening, until the end of the book when you look back and you're like...whoa. I feel like Mei is my daughter and ohmygod my little girl is growing up so fast!!! Right before my eyes. Almost like it happened over the course of 300 pages, or something.

    The family dynamics were also so complex and fleshed out. Like, with most contemporaries, our cool independent teen protagonists have 0 siblings (or maybe one, like, much younger sibling with four lines of dialogue) and 0 parental presence. This book does not shy away at ALL from extremely complicated familial relationships. I love.

    Also I read this in like two sittings, so that's rad.

    But some things I did not like so much. Such as:

    - the romance (bleh very boring except for the ways it contributed to the character development which is A COOL THING BY ITSELF)

    - the friendships (just felt very last-minute to nonexistent)

    - VERY GROSS THINGS SOMETIMES

    - kind of choppy/rushed ending (lot of loose ends to tie from all that DRAAAAMA)

    - I miss Boston so I wish it came through more in the setting but that's just me being ridiculous and not an actual complaint

    Anyway this was so much better than most contemporaries in 3 v important ways that it almost entirely makes up for the ways it's kinda worse.

    ALMOST entirely.

    Bottom line: good stuff!!! If this sounds at all interesting to you, read it, so we can have more diverse/unique/interesting books rather than the same boring white straight girls falling in love!!!

    (Even though I sometimes like that too.)

  • Angelica

    I loved this so much I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It was equal parts funny and earnest, heartwarming and heartbreaking and it was so good!

    I laughed so hard while reading this book. And no, I don’t mean awkward little smiles and little huffs of air. No. I actually laughed out loud the entire time. I was reading it between class breaks at school and I keep getting weird looks from people as I tried to contain my laughter. And the way I see it, if a book can make you look like a fool a

    I loved this so much I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It was equal parts funny and earnest, heartwarming and heartbreaking and it was so good!

    I laughed so hard while reading this book. And no, I don’t mean awkward little smiles and little huffs of air. No. I actually laughed out loud the entire time. I was reading it between class breaks at school and I keep getting weird looks from people as I tried to contain my laughter. And the way I see it, if a book can make you look like a fool and you still keep reading it, then it must be a good book!

    The writing was good. The plot was nicely done. And the characters were compelling, especially Mei’s mom. She ended up being my favorite, as well as a very complex character despite her first impression.

    So, why not the full five stars, you may ask. Well, I just don’t feel like this is as strong as my previous five-star rated books. While this was fun at the moment, I don’t think that it will withstand the test of time and it will make me want to reread it. As much as I liked it, it didn’t quite make it into my list of favorites.

    Overall, this book was great. I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read that is both fun and wonderfully diverse. I look forward to the author’s future work.more than I can say.

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  • Catriona (LittleBookOwl)

    I listened to this on audio and would certainly recommend! I really enjoyed the narrator, and adored the story and our characters.

  • alexandra

    this is the first book that made me feel like my asian-american-ness is seen. forever grateful. full review to come.

  • Heather

    3/5

    A cute, adorable diverse read!!!

    Will feature it very soon in a mashup review!!

  • Lola

    This should have been a winner. Mei, the main character, is Taiwanese-American. She is a college student. I could probably count on one hand the number of YA novels with college settings that are published every year.

    The culture is great. Every chapter introduces the reader to a new characteristic of the Chinese culture. Some, however, are not well explained, such as why certain numbers are considered bad luck, but most are fairly straight-forward.

    But the problem is that even if this book is cle

    This should have been a winner. Mei, the main character, is Taiwanese-American. She is a college student. I could probably count on one hand the number of YA novels with college settings that are published every year.

    The culture is great. Every chapter introduces the reader to a new characteristic of the Chinese culture. Some, however, are not well explained, such as why certain numbers are considered bad luck, but most are fairly straight-forward.

    But the problem is that even if this book is clearly diverse and actually an easy read, I feel as though I have read this story already… about a hundred times before.

    Let me explain. Mei’s parents are old-fashioned and extremely demanding. Mei cannot do one thing without their permission unless it is something that improves her grades or physique. She is constantly being compared to her brother and other people who her parents consider to be ‘‘rebels’’ or ‘‘failures’’.

    I am certain that this all sounds familiar to you, too. To me, this (super controlling and demanding parents) is a trope. I did not give much thought to it in the beginning, since I was captivated by the Chinese culture presented, but after a hundred pages I began to lose interest.

    The other problem is that while I would not say that this is an unrealistic story, the author does stretch reality here and there. For instance, the Asian doctor she meets at the hospital early in the story seemed to exist only to make Mei realize medicine may not be the right area for her.

    And unfortunately, her Japanese love interest did not make me swoon. He is cute, I admit, but so are a thousand other boys. What makes this one special? Not that much… Plus I did notice an insta-love vibe.

    Not a very surprising story. I appreciated the culture and diversity, as I have mentioned many times, so thank you Gloria Chao for writing this book, because I bet new readers of the YA genre will enjoy it more.

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