Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Publisher: Square Fish
Pages: 233
Source: Personal Copy
Category: Graphic Novel
Rating: 5/5


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.

Overall Impression:

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...

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  1. I think you did it justice because you've made me want to read it! (Oh, if only there were more hours in the day for us to read!) It reminds me in some ways of The Joy Luck Club, with the identity issues and the myths mingled in one story.

  2. I didn't like this book as much as you did -- the Chin-Kee storyline seemed a bit over the top -- although I realize that was the point, I found it hard to read.

    I'm glad this book has inspired you to read more graphic novels, a medium I love!

  3. I dont read many graphic novels myself. This one does sound good with a great message.

  4. I read my first graphic novel last year, and was surprised at how much I liked it. The fact that was able to tackle serious issues so movingly, like this one does apparently, was sort of a revelation to me.

  5. Wonderful review, Jennifer! Glad to know that you loved 'American Born Chinese'. I loved it when I read it. Glad to know that you are enjoying graphic novels. Have you read 'Persepolis' by Marjane Sartrapi? I think you will like that too.