American Pandaby Gloria Chao
What I drank: Part of this was written after a “rose tasting” and part was written sober one afternoon because jesus guys, I have work, I have to sober up sometimes.
What it’s about: Mei is an overachieving Chinese-American teenager – I mean hi she’s 17 and already at MIT, which isn’t really what she wanted, as a pre-med student, which is also not what she really wanted. But it’s not about what Mei wants, it’s what her parents want. So, Asian coming-of-age story that’s a little more real.
Review: Overall, I liked this book. It was funny, it was warm, it got a little dark, and it was relatable.
– Mei is every American teen girl and every immigrant daughter, so her struggles (body image, meeting parental expectations, boys) are relatable. (Oh does your mom not call you a hundred times a day?)
– in the past i think a lot of coming-of-age stories misinterpreted rebellion as total rejection of culture. Mei, like a lot of teens doesn’t want to deny her Taiwanese heritage but just be allowed to also be american
– I think Mei’s family is well-illustrated, but the other characters could have been more filled out
– Mei has one friend? Not even Taiwanese friends her parents would have forced on her?
– I loved the layers in Mei’s relationship with her mom
– Ugh, Xing, Mei’s brother who’s been booted from the family. I like Xing. But goddamn when a sibling fails to delivers so the younger one has to try twice as hard to be perfect. I’m kind of surprised Mei doesn’t have a stress disorder.
I know we’ve been getting a lot of second-generation immigrant coming-of-age stories in the market, but they are stories that need to be told and stories everyone needs to read, and American Panda is a great example of that genre.
Pairing it w coffee boba tea, bc what college student doesn’t drink coffee
Rating – 4/5