Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Born Chinese

Last night I read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (New York: First Second, 2006), a full color graphic novel which won he Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Such honors are well deserved. At times hilarious and at times poignant, it is an excellent story.

The chapters jump between three different stories which eventually weave together. The apparent main story features Jin Wang, the American born Chinese boy of the title, and his life at school in an unnamed American town, from his friendships with the only two other Asians in his school to his crush on a white girl. The second tale features the Monkey King, and while his story is recognizably the Buddhist legend, there are modern and even Christian elements. The third story features Danny, a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid, and his cousin Chin-Kee, who is the amalgam of every awful, painful Chinese stereotype. How these three stories manage to come together, I’ll let you discover for yourself if you read it.

Highly recommended.

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