Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book of the Week: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is three stories that intersect at the end of the graphic novel. The first story is about a Chinese-American boy growing up in the '80's and '90's as an outcast in his mostly white school. He tries to fit in by rejecting his Asian heritage by perming his hair and hanging out with the other white kids, but then a Taiwanese boy named Wei-Chen transfers to his class and makes Jin aware that no matter how hard he tries to fit in, he is different. The second story is the legend of the Monkey King, a monkey that rules over other monkeys, but never gets respect from humans. The third story is about Danny, a teenager who's embarrassed when his cousin Chin-kee, a living example of every Chinese stereotype, come to visit him.
All these stories seem very different, but they're very alike. Jin, Danny, and even the Monkey King, want to fit in. Their stories show, however, that no matter how hard you try, you can't run away from what you really are. The book is a funny, sometimes sad, but very touching look at what is means to be different when you want to be like everyone else. You can find American Born Chinese in the YA Graphic Novel section of the library under 741.5 Yang.

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