American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

 

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The Story

“It’s easy to become anything you wish…so as long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

My Thoughts

★★★★★ 5/5 stars!

I loved, loved, loved this book. And you know why? Yang is one of the illustrators and authors for some of the Avatar:nThe Last Airbender comics. This explains everything.

I wish I didn’t rent this book, because I want it forever.

If you have ever felt left out or experienced “otherization” due to your ethnicity, you can relate to this story. It deals with specifically Asian/Chinese-Americans, but the comic can link to the similar experience of assimilation. This story follows the themes of otherization, the identity story, bullying, and stereotyping. I loved that he presented all these scenes in a subtle way too. Because if you think about it, rarely is racism explicit racism. Usually, it is so ingrained within us and our society, that it is difficult to recognize. I only hope that nobody takes Chin-kee at face value. Overall, he is supposed to represent the all-encompassing Chinese stereotypes, labels, and its accompanying racism.

The story is split into three parts with Journey to the West, Danny, and Jin Wang. All three, have the same moral. Somehow, they all connect, but you have to read it to the end to find out how! The ending blew my mind, in a good way.

The characters made me giggle like a kid, especially the Monkey King. He was ridiculous. Ridiculously stubborn, hilarious, and wise.

Give me more of his graphic novels, please.

UPDATE: I MET THE AUTHOR

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