Rach's Reviews > American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
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Jun 18, 11

bookshelves: carol-s-graphic-narratives-course, printz, challenge-11-summer, 2011, graphic-novels
Read from June 16 to 17, 2011

Number 1: I love Gene Luen Yang's style of drawing - the simple bold lines, the cutely representational characters, the clear and unique colors. Maybe it's the similarity to the Sunday morning comics of my childhood, but I could look at Yang's art forever without getting tired of it.

Number 2: The plotting and writing of these unique yet ubiquitous interconnected and diverging stories are fantastic. Almost everyone goes through a stage at some point in their life where they wish they were someone else. I like to call it "the grass is always greener" syndrome. Often times, as in American Born Chinese, a person starts to feel that way because they have been made to think they are inferior, that who they are isn't worth anything. And they start to believe, "If only I were prettier/taller/whiter/more athletic, my life would be perfect. I would get everything I want and deserve." Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case: in the end, the person who changes doesn't really gain anything, and instead loses their true self, who they really are.

The stories of the Monkey King and Jin Wang are quite similar: They want to be different, better than they believe themselves to be. They want to be accepted by their perceived peers as equals, and they will change anything about themselves to succeed. In the story of Danny and his "cousin" Chin-Kee, the strangeness of the "foreigner" Chin-Kee is emphasized because that is what Danny has come to believe of himself and his people - obnoxious, pushy, sexist, and crass. It is only when he is forced to realize and accept that who he truly is as a person is enough that he can begin to grow up and fulfill his purpose and destiny in life.

Number 3: Yes, you should read this book. And so should your friends, your kids, your parents, and everyone else you know. It won't take long, so go get this book and do it now. :)
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