Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “American Panda” as Want to Read:
American Panda
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

American Panda

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  8,603 ratings  ·  2,122 reviews
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bri
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about American Panda, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gloria Chao Thank you so much, Keira! AMERICAN PANDA will be released February 6, 2018!
Vivienne There is cursing (f*ck), some making out, and discussions of STDs and sex, but there are no actual sex scenes.
The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackWar Storm by Victoria AveyardQueen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra ClareA Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa TahirObsidio by Amie Kaufman
YA Novels of 2018
1,017 books — 5,583 voters
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi AdeyemiThe Hazel Wood by Melissa AlbertSky in the Deep by Adrienne YoungEverless by Sara  HollandAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao
YA Debuts 2018
153 books — 642 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,603 ratings  ·  2,122 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of American Panda
Elle (ellexamines)
“You don’t even know what Ying-Na is doing. Everything you hear is a rumor. For all you know, she could be a neurosurgeon married to a billionare tech god.” Or maybe she’s struggling but happy. I kept this thought to myself since my mom wouldn’t understand the value of that life.

4 1/2 stars. What a lovely, lovely surprise. American Panda is ownvoices contemporary fic about a Taiwanese-American girl struggling with her strict parents and with trying to carve her own path. And holy crap. It’s
Caz (littlebookowl)
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Rating: 4.5 stars

I listened to this on audio and would certainly recommend! I really enjoyed the narrator, and adored the story and our characters.
Oct 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This was another okay/quick read. May is a 17 year old M.I.T. med student, highly pressurized by her strict Chinese parents to be the perfect child and not disgrace the family. 😇 I definitely didn’t experience this kind of pressure with school or career choices growing up. It’s kind of a sad story. As a parent I’ll never understand disowning your own child. It just sounds crazy to me. 🤯
I loved this so much! I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was equal parts funny and earnest, heartwarming and heartbreaking and it was so good!

I laughed so hard while reading this book. And no, I don’t mean awkward little smiles and little huffs of air. No. I actually laughed out loud the entire time. I was reading it between class breaks at school and I keep getting weird looks from people as I tried to contain my laughter. And the way I see it, if a book can make you look like a fool an
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

This is ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET from a Taiwanese perspective. Seriously. Seriously. I have waded through disappointing YA all year - and finally, finally, I have read one that was the ground-breaking, emotionally moving experience that I was expecting. And you know what the funny thing is? That blurb doesn't do it justice. I almost didn't apply for the ARC of this book because the blurb with its "laugh-out-loud contemporary
Things that were absolutely full-on remarkable/fantastic/excellent/next-level/choose-your-own-positive-adjective about this book:
- the representation
- the character development
- the family relationships

This book is some of the best cultural representation I've ever. Read. In. My. LIFE. Our main character, Mei, is Taiwanese-American (the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants). The culture is so well-included it's unreal. So fascinating and intertwined with the lives of Mei and her family without being
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-contemporary

A cute, adorable diverse read!!!

Will feature it very soon in a mashup review!!
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
this is the first book that made me feel like my asian-american-ness is seen. forever grateful. full review to come.
♛ may
this was absolutely one book that SHOCKED me with how amazing it was. here i was thinking it was gonna be a cute, little contemporary, that includes some Taiwanese rep but NO NONONONON THIS BOOK IS SO MUCH MORE

the way the author explores and delves into the culture and traditions as well as all the superstitions and outrageous expectations parents have for their children was SO EYEOPENING

i loved how both narratives were explored. like yes we get to it from Mei's side, the overbearing parents tha
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dearest Reader,
I wrote American Panda because it was the book I needed in high school and the book I needed when I decided to put my dental career aside to try writing, which I had no experience in.

This is also a book I would have needed in high school or during my three years of pre-med school. People can say all they want, but reading a book and being able to relate to it is probably one of the best feelings ever; I am but one Asian kid among many others, and I wish for them to find themselves
Amy Leigh
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this! It's well-written and engaging. I couldn't put it down! There are some laugh out loud moments and times you wish you could reach in and give Mei a hug or a high five. (Not that she would like that.)

Mei is a Taiwanese-American seventeen year old who is starting her freshman year at MIT. She tries so hard to appease her very traditional parents while her mother constantly speaks negatively about her. She hides her Japanese crush turned boyfriend from her parents because that is the w
Fafa's Book Corner
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Omg this was so good!

Going to be rereading this when it comes out.
monica kim
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-loved
There's something magical about reading a book and feeling so seen. Multiple elements of this story were things I've never seen another book tackle when it comes to growing up Asian. But this is a book anyone can relate to - it's all about the struggle of wanting to be who you are while also being what your family expects of you. The story was poignant and funny, and I can't wait to read future books by Gloria. ...more
It bothers me that when you hear ‘POC’ or ‘diversity’ it almost always means half-American and half-whatever-culture-they-represent.
Not that it is this book’s fault or anything, but where are those books featuring Indian, Chinese, Japanese, African, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Australian, French, Dutch and characters from every other nation out there? Where are the books written by people from these nations? WHY AREN’T BOOKS SET IN THESE BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL LANDS? Why are people so interested in Ame
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

17-year-old Mei should be in high school, but skipping a grade was all part of her parent's plan for her to go to MIT become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, and produce a litter of babies. When she reconnects with her brother, Xing, the truth she's carefully constructed starts to waver and the truth leaks out: she hates germs, falls asleep in biology lectures, and has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decide
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
This Kiwi-Panda has mixed feelings about American Panda.

On one hand:
- I didn't find myself in this book, though many others did and I'm thankful for that. Nonetheless, I appreciated American Panda's narrative, its honesty and its vulnerability.
- There were some truly tender moments that made me shed a tear, particularly the stuff that were related to her family.
- I enjoyed Chao's unapologetic and seamless integration of Taiwanese culture into the narrative, and I liked that it wasn't dense wit
Trina (Between Chapters)
Torn on my rating because although I thought this was really sweet, it's been a few days since I finished this and I don't remember much about it. I did enjoy the fat rep because this character is physically active (she's a dancer) and she herself did not seem to think of her weight as an "issue," although it is brought up a few times by her parents.

Audio rating: Narration was good. Two of my personal audiobook pet peeves are when the narrator sounds clearly older than the teenage character they
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, 3, starred-2018, ya
I wish the author made an attempt to think bigger and be more creative. A lot of the plot is too familiar and predictable (it's mostly the Asian-tiger-parents-pushing-for-med-school scenario) and the romance, while sweet, is kind of bland and not memorable. Overall it gave me a feeling of a very rookie novel.

Chao captured the voice of a nagging/threatening/pleading tiger mom very well though. Just reading conversations with this "mom" gave me anxiety attacks. Can't imagine having to live in a fa
Korrina  (OwlCrate)
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Very, very cute and quite funny too!
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First of all, how cute is this cover!!

Secondly, I am not Asian so I have no idea how accurate the depiction of Chinese culture is in this book. But it was very interesting to read about and I'm happy that I read this, if only to learn more about the culture and struggles of Taiwanese-Americans.

Thirdly, I loved the Chinese sprinkled in. I don’t speak Chinese so, again, no idea how well this was done, but I loved the sound of it in the audio book.

Fourthly, I was disappointed in this book. Yes, it
chloe ♡
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own, review-copy
LOVE THIS SO MUCH! 我很愛這本書喔 (。♥‿♥。)


I'm Chinese, and I could really relate to some of the family stuff Mei had to deal with. My parents are not as traditional as Mei's, BUT - I'M REALLY FAMILIAR WITH A LOT OF STUFF IN THIS BOOK AND IT FEELS GOOD, YA KNOW?

Stinky tofu! It's one of my favorite Chinese street foods and although it stinks, it tastes so delicious *drools* (Sadly, Mei doesn't like stinky tofu D:)

Insecurities - Mei is dissatisfied with the size of her nose, and
lily ☁️
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
it's rare to find a book where I can read along and be like "it me" and yell because the references are so familiar and this is one of them. *cries in ownvoices*
the cover image makes the story seem a bit lighter than you might expect since it gets really heavy at some points with the family drama, I felt like I was being punched in the gut. :'(
I feel like I need to make a playlist for this book now.
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
The cultural aspect of this was very strong - I was fascinated by all of the Chinese customs. I liked the main character a lot, but I did feel like the plot was a bit rushed and some of the side characters were underdeveloped. Overall, this was a really cute read and it had a lot of shining moments. It made me emotional more than once!
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this had me laughing, crying, and craving dumplings more than i already do. official blurb to come soon, but for now? you totally need to add this to your pre-order lists. one of my favorite reads of the year.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciate the way that AMERICAN PANDA was a book that featured a ton of things I love (cute romance, college anecdotes, self-growth and discovery) AND centered around a Taiwanese-American character. While not quite the same as my own experiences as Filipino-American, there were certain similarities in attitude and expectation that really felt relatable to me and I appreciated that so much. And I really just liked Mei and was rooting from her right from the start!
Aj the Ravenous Reader
Cute and funny but also heartrending. It didn't skimp on some harsh realities on a young woman's experience growing up surrounded by different cultures.

The story is entertaining, sad,  enlightening, and hopeful. A lot of times funny and oftentimes relatable. I could feel Mei's struggle in living her life in general because her parents have already planned out her future. I could definitely feel the weight on her shoulders- her parents expecting the best from her and for her even if their defini
Mel Anie
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyobe, especially young-adult readers
This was so funny and better than good, although expectations of some people annoyed me.

Motto to this book:
Always remember to chase happiness and don't give up on your dreams.

American Panda turned out to be an awesome contemporary YA book. It was far better than I thought knocking down all my expectations. This book emanated such warmth which is so hard to find in book and which I adore so much. All that warmth is entwined with Mei self-discovery, being loyal to her dream and being a prop
Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
DDR, dumplings, the struggles of dealing with traditional Asian parents and their expectations of perfectly mannered children - I'm pretty sure this is the book of my heart. American Panda is surprisingly refreshing because it actually gets the pressure and all consuming hold that traditional Asian parents can have on your kids, including the ultimatums and cultural expectations that they heap upon you.

Full review to come.
Dilushani Jayalath
Personally this book could have been the most relatable book for me. In an ideal situation I should completely relate to Mei. As a fellow Asian with parents who had high expectations (notice the past tense?) I should find Mei’s character very similar to mine. From being expected to follow my father’s footsteps in becoming a doctor but stuck being an Interior Architect when I really want to be Conservative Architect, my life until this point has had similar moments as that if Mei’s life. The whol ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Way You Make Me Feel
  • A Taste for Love
  • I Love You So Mochi
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love
  • I'll Be the One
  • Somewhere Only We Know
  • A Pho Love Story
  • Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1)
  • There's Something About Sweetie (Dimple and Rishi, #2)
  • When Dimple Met Rishi (Dimple and Rishi, #1)
  • 10 Things I Hate About Pinky (Dimple and Rishi, #3)
  • From Twinkle, with Love
  • Parachutes
  • Fake It Till You Break It
  • Love From A to Z
  • A Match Made in Mehendi
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters
  • Saints and Misfits
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, and the upcoming Rent a Boyfriend. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths.

Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at

Articles featuring this book

November is the time for aspiring writers to get serious about writing that book! It's National Novel Writing Month, the annual event designed to...
99 likes · 23 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“I couldn't go through life as a shadow.” 10 likes
“And right now I had no idea where I ended and my parents began.” 9 likes
More quotes…