American Born Chinese

Published By: First Second

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Comics & Graphic Novels

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Reviewed by Connie Anderson

Earlier this year I reviewed several other graphic novels (comic books made into a book form), most of high quality in every way, including content. This one is all that and more--it's earning honors already.

The National Book Award is one of the most prestigious awards in literature and American Born Chinese is the first graphic novel to be nominated in any category in its 57-year history--and has just been selected as one of the 20 finalist. The book has also been nominated for Best Book for Young Adults and has received praise from Scholl Library Journal.

This inch-thick, 235-page graphic novel consists of several separate stories that seem disconnected until the very end.

The themes are:

-- Jin Wang is the new kid and the only Chinese-American student
-- The ancient fable of the Monkey Kin
-- Chin-Kee, the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype

Jin has a new Chinese-American friend, who when Jin gets angry at him, he calls him a FOB (fresh off the boat) because his friend's speech and mannerisms are more Chinese than American. Jin is embarrassed by his friend (the other new kid) because Jin wants to "fit in."

The modern fable is hilarious, poignant and action packed.

The bullying and name calling, the desire to fit in (and what one might do to make that happen), interracial dating and prejudice, parental expectations of old-world ideals--and many can relate to these feelings and situations.

Children and teenagers who are "different" from the others will appreciate the message of having friends, loneliness, becoming accepted, stereotypes, prejudice, parental expectations--what so many deal with.

Armchair Interviews says: Gene Luen Yang is a talent we'll hear more of.

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