American Panda

American Panda

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 ful...

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

American Panda Reviews

  • Kerri

    this had me laughing, crying, and craving dumplings more than i already do. official blurb to come soon, but for now? you totally need to add this to your pre-order lists. one of my favorite reads of the year.

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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    🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of

    . For more info on this challenge,

    . 🌟

    Seriously.

    . I have waded through disappointing YA all year - and finally,

    , I have read one that was the ground-breaking, emotionally moving experience that I was expecting. And you know what the funny thing is? Tha

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    🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of

    . For more info on this challenge,

    . 🌟

    Seriously.

    . I have waded through disappointing YA all year - and finally,

    , I have read one that was the ground-breaking, emotionally moving experience that I was expecting. And you know what the funny thing is? That blurb doesn't do it justice. I almost didn't apply for the ARC of this book because the blurb with its "laugh-out-loud contemporary debut" I'm-so-twee bubbliness made me think this was going to be another vapid attempt to scratch at the surface of diversity without really going into any sort of conflict or detail.

    NOPE.

    Mei Lu is a freshman at MIT, despite being only seventeen (she was skipped a year). Her parents have big plans for her: they want her to be a doctor and marry the son of one of their friends, another Taiwanese doctor-to-be. The only problem is Mei doesn't want any of that. She's germophobic, and the thought of being a doctor and engaging with bodily fluids causes her to feel panicky and anxious; she wants to

    . She also doesn't want to marry anyone her parents have in mind; instead she wants to date a classmate, a Japanese boy named Darren. Unfortunately, in Mei's family, disobedience means terrible consequences. Her brother, Xing, has been disowned and erased by the family for his defiance.

    This is such a good book. It's saturated with Taiwanese cultural references - fashion, arts, language, food - but being Taiwanese does not entirely comprise Mei's entire identity.

    In addition to that, there are all the struggles of being a first-year student: living on your own; meeting new people; finding a work-life balance; studying for exams. AMERICAN PANDA also tackles the harder subjects, too, like

    Mei is such a great narrator. She's emotional and funny and cute, in a way that reminded me of Meg Cabot. Her love interest, Darren, is adorable. I lost it when I found out that he looked like a young Takeshi Kaneshiro - babe alert! I also really liked her friend Nicolette, and how their relationship grew stronger when Mei got over her own initial stereotypes about her roommate. Also, Ying-Na was amazing. Her storyline reminded me of the TV show,

    (which you should totally watch if you haven't already). I would love to read a companion book about her journey.

    Perhaps

    . It could be painful, and even though Mei's parents did terrible things, they weren't black-and-white characters. They believed they were doing the best for Mei even as they hurt her. Watching her relationship with them change over the course of the novel was amazing - especially with Mei's mom. Her story was quite touching and sad, and by the end of the book, I felt like I liked her almost as well as I liked Mei.

    Obviously, I loved this book and I think everyone should read it - especially if they've been fed up with some of the young adult offerings this year, as I have been. I can see this being one of the top nominees for the Goodreads Choice Awards next year, and I can guarantee it'll have my vote.

    5 stars

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

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

    is ownvoices contemporary fic about a Chinese / Taiwanese 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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  • Korrina  (OwlCrate)

    Very, very cute and quite funny too!

  • Book Riot Community

    I try not to read books too far in advance because it means everyone else will have to wait before they too can experience the joy I’m feeling. Gloria Chao’s American Panda is about a Taiwanese-American girl named Mei who gets into college early (MIT) and has to straddle two cultures. It’s a story about the importance of traditions but also the room for evolution. I related so much to Mei’s experience as someone who came to Canada as an infant and navigating my relationship with parents as a res

    I try not to read books too far in advance because it means everyone else will have to wait before they too can experience the joy I’m feeling. Gloria Chao’s American Panda is about a Taiwanese-American girl named Mei who gets into college early (MIT) and has to straddle two cultures. It’s a story about the importance of traditions but also the room for evolution. I related so much to Mei’s experience as someone who came to Canada as an infant and navigating my relationship with parents as a result of it. It’s an earnest, funny and emotional story and I recommend adding it to your to-be-read list. It brought a ray of light to my July.

    —Ardo Omer

    from The Best Books We Read In July 2017:

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