Thursday, June 23, 2011
Review: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: Square Fish
Source: Personal Copy
Category: Graphic Novel
American Born Chinese is a story about stereotypes, desires, and the struggles to fit in. This powerful graphic novel follows three story lines that seem completely separate, Each story line is woven together skillfully in the last chapter, leaving readers with a powerful message. The first plot follows Jin Wang, a typical example of the struggles of being different. Jin Want has changed schools, and he's the only American-Chinese male in his school. His classmates refuse to see him as anything but Chinese. He's mocked, bullied, and eventually meets one friend, the other Asian who comes to his school. The second plot illustrates the ancient fable of the Monkey King. A king who refused to see himself as a monkey. The Monkey King constantly wanted more in life, and he was not willing to settle for anything less. The third plot follows Chin-Kee who depicts the ultimate negative stereotype of being Chinese. This story is for anyone who has ever felt different, who has fought to be accepted or anyone who has had to battle stereotypes.
I admit, this was my first graphic novel. I will be looking for more, because I never thought a Graphic novel could be so good. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. This book is a great book for anyone who has struggled with identity issues. I can absolutely relate, as a Native American. I'm Native to some people, and not Native enough for others. I cringe at the line 'You don't look Native.' Okay, sorry I don't fit your mold. I think everyone struggles with identity issues at some point, but I believe anyone who doesn't fit the norm has a more difficult time. I walked away from this novel very satisfied. I thought this little graphic novel had a great message. Identity, stereotypes, and self-acceptance are constant struggles. I loved the Monkey King's greed, and stubbornness. His lesson was learned the hard way, but it was fulfilling for the reader. The story of Chin-Knee was both hilarious but despairing. I honestly despise stereotypes, and so many people deal with them on a daily basis. This graphic novel really hit home for me. It is a great masterpiece, that deserves every award it received. I loved the artistic illustrations. This is a great book for any race.
My review does not give this book justice, for that I apologize...