American Panda
An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.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 bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

American Panda Details

TitleAmerican Panda
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherSimon Pulse
ISBN-139781481499101
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction, Realistic Fiction

American Panda Review

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    releasing Feb 6th! And a boost to a five, because I can't look at myself anymore for giving this a four. “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. What a lovely, lovely surprise. American Panda is ownvoices contemporary fic about a Taiwanese-American girl str releasing Feb 6th! And a boost to a five, because I can't look at myself anymore for giving this a four. “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. 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 awesome.American Panda is chiefly a character study. This is a book that would fail without being underpinned by some freaking fantastic character development, and holy crap, is it. Mei’s character voice is one of the strongest I’ve read in contemporary fiction. Her journey feels so real because she is so multifaceted - Mei works through germaphobia, her passion for dance, her relationship with her brother, and her relationship with Japanese Darren all at once. She even learns to work through her own prejudices against her roomnate, whose name I have somehow forgotten despite how much I love her character, and Ying-Na, whose purpose I will not spoil. The narrative of this book is perfectly balanced between exploring Mei’s struggle with strict parents and not condemming her cultural values as the cause of those parent issues. Gloria Chao is so quick to remind the readership that the issue isn’t her parents strict cultural values - it’s their prioritization of themselves over her. My parents may have done versions of what he was implying, but not in the same tone. It’s so… subtly drawn. The story of American Panda works because it feels so effortless and natural, as if it’s coming straight out of the author’s heart. Gloria Chao's author’s note explictly says this is her personal story, but it’s unecessary: you can absolutely tell just how personal a story this is.I’d honestly say the lead character’s development and the subtlety of the story is the best part, but there are so many moving parts helping the buildup. The perfect balance between comedy and dark elements. The pacing - I found the beginning a bit dull, but it picks up speed quickly. The relationship between Mei and Darren being basically the cutest thing. The focus on Mei's relationship with her brother, Xing. The relationship between Mei and her mom, which basically single-handedly makes American Panda worth the read. A part of me lowkey wants to give this a five and I am so picky with fives. guys, you know I've been trying to read less contemporary because I'm so picky about it, but this... American Panda is going to be one of the best contemporaries of 2018. I never know how to do justice to personal stories like this one, but I can’t recommend this enough. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube
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  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    This should have been a winner. Mei, the main character, is Taiwanese-American. She is a college student. I could probably count on one hand the number of YA novels with college settings that are published every year.The culture is great. Every chapter introduces the reader to a new characteristic of the Chinese culture. Some, however, are not well explained, such as why certain numbers are considered bad luck, but most are fairly straight-forward.But the problem is that even if this book is cle This should have been a winner. Mei, the main character, is Taiwanese-American. She is a college student. I could probably count on one hand the number of YA novels with college settings that are published every year.The culture is great. Every chapter introduces the reader to a new characteristic of the Chinese culture. Some, however, are not well explained, such as why certain numbers are considered bad luck, but most are fairly straight-forward.But the problem is that even if this book is clearly diverse and actually an easy read, I feel as though I have read this story already… about a hundred times before.Let me explain. Mei’s parents are old-fashioned and extremely demanding. Mei cannot do one thing without their permission unless it is something that improves her grades or physique. She is constantly being compared to her brother and other people who her parents consider to be ‘‘rebels’’ or ‘‘failures’’. I am certain that this all sounds familiar to you, too. To me, this (super controlling and demanding parents) is a trope. I did not give much thought to it in the beginning, since I was captivated by the Chinese culture presented, but after a hundred pages I began to lose interest. The other problem is that while I would not say that this is an unrealistic story, the author does stretch reality here and there. For instance, the Asian doctor she meets at the hospital early in the story seemed to exist only to make Mei realize medicine may not be the right area for her. And unfortunately, her Japanese love interest did not make me swoon. He is cute, I admit, but so are a thousand other boys. What makes this one special? Not that much… Plus I did notice an insta-love vibe. Not a very surprising story. I appreciated the culture and diversity, as I have mentioned many times, so thank you Gloria Chao for writing this book, because I bet new readers of the YA genre will enjoy it more. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.5 starsI listened to this on audio and would certainly recommend! I really enjoyed the narrator, and adored the story and our characters.
  • Heather 'Bookables'
    January 1, 1970
    3/5A cute, adorable diverse read!!!Will feature it very soon in a mashup review!!
  • emma
    January 1, 1970
    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 relationshipsThis 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 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 relationshipsThis 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 character-defining. I LOVED. More representation like this pleaaaaase.Mei's character development is also unbelievable. It's so smooth you barely even notice it as it's happening, until the end of the book when you look back and you're like...whoa. I feel like Mei is my daughter and ohmygod my little girl is growing up so fast!!! Right before my eyes. Almost like it happened over the course of 300 pages, or something.The family dynamics were also so complex and fleshed out. Like, with most contemporaries, our cool independent teen protagonists have 0 siblings (or maybe one, like, much younger sibling with four lines of dialogue) and 0 parental presence. This book does not shy away at ALL from extremely complicated familial relationships. I love.Also I read this in like two sittings, so that's rad.But some things I did not like so much. Such as:- the romance (bleh very boring except for the ways it contributed to the character development which is A COOL THING BY ITSELF)- the friendships (just felt very last-minute to nonexistent)- VERY GROSS THINGS SOMETIMES- kind of choppy/rushed ending (lot of loose ends to tie from all that DRAAAAMA)- I miss Boston so I wish it came through more in the setting but that's just me being ridiculous and not an actual complaintAnyway this was so much better than most contemporaries in 3 v important ways that it almost entirely makes up for the ways it's kinda worse.ALMOST entirely.Bottom line: good stuff!!! If this sounds at all interesting to you, read it, so we can have more diverse/unique/interesting books rather than the same boring white straight girls falling in love!!! (Even though I sometimes like that too.)
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  • Angelica
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this so much I was pleasantly surprised with 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 a I loved this so much I was pleasantly surprised with 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 and you still keep reading it, then it must be a good book!The writing was good. The plot was nicely done. And the characters were compelling, especially Mei’s mom. She ended up being my favorite, as well as a very complex character despite her first impression.So, why not the full five stars, you may ask. Well, I just don’t feel like this is as strong as my previous five-star rated books. While this was fun at the moment, I don’t think that it will withstand the test of time and it will make me want to reread it. As much as I liked it, it didn’t quite make it into my list of favorites.Overall, this book was great. I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read that is both fun and wonderfully diverse. I look forward to the author’s future work.more than I can say.This review first appeared on The Book Cover Girl blog.Followe Me Here Too: Bloglovin' || Instagram || Tumblr
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  • Amy Leigh
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 worst to them. She tries hard to hold on to her culture but to also be herself and understand that she needs to do what is best for her since it is her life. She has a very difficult roommate who becomes a much needed friend and Mei has a very genuine germ-phobia. Her older brother was disowned by their parents for not living up to their standards but she doesn't know what really happened until he pops back into Mei's life. She has to figure out where she wants to go with her life and if she can really become the doctor her parents want her to be or pursue other avenues.Update: re-read 4/10/18My original rating stands, I adore this book!
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  • Fafa's Book Corner
    January 1, 1970
    Omg this was so good! Going to be rereading this when it comes out.
  • alexandra
    January 1, 1970
    this is the first book that made me feel like my asian-american-ness is seen. forever grateful. full review to come.
  • may ❀
    January 1, 1970
    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 MOREthe 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 EYEOPENINGi loved how both narratives were explored. like yes we get to it from Mei's side, the overbearing parents tha 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 MOREthe 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 EYEOPENINGi loved how both narratives were explored. like yes we get to it from Mei's side, the overbearing parents that expect wayyyyy too much and bombard her with all these ideologies and how she just wants to do what makes her happy,then we also get to hear from the parents, how they too were brought up on this and believed this was the only way to live and how difficult it is for them to accept any other belief, bc they just dont know that sideit discussed all these really hard topics while remaining lighthearted and cute and just amazing all around. i truly truly loved this book it was so real and it was like even thought im not east asian, i found i was able to relate and connect with the characters so well and i just overall thought this book was SO REAL omg i will tear up now goodbye4.5 stars!!Suddenly I saw the spectrum they represented. It had been right before my eyes, but I hadn’t seen—or more accurately, had refused to see. Before, I had blamed my culture, but that wasn’t the problem. It was so much more complicated than that. It was a clashing of personalities and interpretations of cultures. How would my parents and I ever find a solution to this impossible mix of opposing ideals and desires?
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  • Romie
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 in books.This is an ownvoices book about a Taiwanese-American girl born of Taiwanese immigrants, trying to make her way through MIT while struggling with her traditionalist parents’ expectations and what she truly wants for herself. People might sell you this book as a cute contemporary, saying it’s about a Taiwanese girl falling for a Japanese guy, but someone hold me, this book is so much more than that.Mei is a 17-year-old MIT student, pushed by her parents to become a doctor because ‘this is what’s best for her’ and she ‘should trust her parents to know what’s good for her’ … she’s torn between her Taiwanese heritage and the fact that she does happen to be both American and Taiwanese, she has to find where she stands between these two extremely different cultures. She’s been taught by her parents that respecting them means never challenging their point of view, or honouring them by finding a good husband, or being rich, or simply not speaking her mind.This book isn’t about a girl and a boy falling in love *coughs* It does happen in the book, sure, but this isn’t about that, this isn’t the core subject of this book. This book is about Mei finding out what she wants for her life, what she does or not believe in, what she can keep of Taiwanese heritage and what she should left behind because she cannot possibly believe it’s the right thing. Mei has to deal with this internalised obedience and guilt she feels when she thinks of not doing what her parents want. It’s about her learning to put herself first.I related a lot to this story. It makes me sad to say it because you never really want to say something bad abut your own culture, but Asian stereotypes do exist for a reason. Not everybody has to undergo them, but some of us do, I did. I saw my dad in Mei’s parents, in their way to control her life, her career, but I also saw my dad in Mei’s mom trying to make things better, trying to understand her. As a French-Vietnamese woman, I related to so many of the little things Mei had to go through, all these internalised racist comments people throw at you, all these Asian jokes ….. I could and did relate. I saw myself in May and her struggles, I was pushed to study sciences because we’re taught it’s the only way to succeed in life, I had to go against my parents to show them it wasn’t for me … that’s not something every Asian kid has to suffer through, but I did, and I am glad I could share this burden with Mei, see myself in her. It makes looking back on these years a little easier.This book is dear to my heart, it represents something I am not ashamed of, a battle I had to fight and won. This book represents hope in its most essential form.4.5
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  • Dani - Perspective of a Writer
    January 1, 1970
    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 decided 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 decidedly not Taiwanese.The short review...Mei’s life is about to become a dumpling with 3 spoonfuls. The skin bursting because it’s just too much! I felt for Mei and actually she’s pretty funny... If you want to know what it COULD BE like to be the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants in America then you NEED Mei's story. You may not relate at first if you're a rebellious one, because this girl isn't. She's well versed in the Asian guilt and its a huge motivator for her. Going away to college literally gives her a chance to be exposed to choices and a different way of making choices. While there is A LOT of family pressure in this story there is also lots of love and light and laughter! I don't want you to think this isn't totally balanced as Mei struggles to find her feet. I LOVED the people in her life, especially Darren, and ALL of the little minor characters that makes this book so heartfelt (I'm looking at you Nic!) Love DID NOT solve Mei's problems but it did challenge her and support her. AND THAT END!!! It all comes together in an unexpected way that made me love everyone in the story...Cover & Title grade -> B-I’m not a fan of this cover. I don’t really like covers with people on them, I want to imagine the character for myself. I do LOVE the title art and the doodles around the picture! I feel a cover with doodles like that with some dance flair and germ or medicine focus would be much better! And the title fit too though I almost think one about dumplings would be more fun?Why was the end so incredible and spot on?We literally learn about the traditions Mei is up against!Sprinkled through the book and also at the wedding and funeral we get a concentrated look at some Taiwanese culture. Mei does an excellent job helping us understand the position she's in between a rock and a hard place. She loves her parents and her culture but also comes to understand that her choices don't have to be the same her parents made.Mei developed relationships of all kinds!She has to go head to head with her roommate and is surprised by what she finds. She meets a boy... not a totally off limits white American boy nor the totally acceptable Taiwanese one, but another Asian who sort of understands and sort of doesn't. Then there is her brother and the woman he left their family for!! (Now this really gets tough...) And we have her totally traditional parents who believe time has stood still... or do they?! Plus there is the school mate from the past... And boy does it come together!Everything played out true to life but also in a hopeful way!I'm not sure that the fact this is an #ownvoices novel is why this reads so full and rich, so natural and right and so touching and heartfelt... but it certainly contributed to it!! It had hard topics like racism within the Asian culture as well as funny (but real) ones like germophobia. It touches on work, love and family as well as ones own prejudices! The end was hopeful but NOT perfect. Life isn't but Mei learned a skill to maneuver around that fact and still be happy. Isn't that what's MOST important!?As a Writer...Authenticity is terribly important, especially in a contemporary story. Hence why readers are on the lookout for #ownvoices. I don't think every story we read NEEDS to be own voices, but it certainly helps the story to feel natural and organic. A lot of that has to do with how full a story feels! Because it's something the author has experienced and had lots of interaction with they (hopefully) innately understand how much detail and elements the story needs to feel real.A story by its very nature only appears to mimic life. We can't possibly show ALL the nuances of life or character. But if enough details are LEFT OUT of the story then it feels shallow and may times stereotypical as there isn't enough detail for it to stand up under scrutiny. Proper motivations, foreshadowing (with a light hand) and developed character arcs are all a MUST.American Panda is so, so cute and authentic! Mei learned what it means to bridge her Taiwanese tradition with American desire. It meant sacrifice and taking bold (if scary) steps to preserve her choices! This is a must read and one of the best YA contemporaries of 2018.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World BuildingBOTTOM LINE: Taiwanese traditions + Germophobia conspire to lay Mei out until she decides to MAKE A STAND!Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.______________________You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
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  • Fuzaila ~ is on hiatus
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 America and only what happens to people over there? I’m not blaming America. It’s a great nation, and it’s practically ruling the world for a reason. But at least in literature, we need ACTUAL DIVERSITY. Idk, I might sound hypocritical, considering this book is titled ‘American Panda’, but that only enforces my point imo. And FOR THE RECORD, I’m ASIAN.Mei Lu is Taiwanese-American. She was born and bought up in America, but her parents are conservative and traditional in a way that is almost oppressing. She isn’t allowed to date, her parents have already planned out her future, right from her career to her future-husband and children. Mei has never questioned her parents’ upbringing, until they disowned her brother Xing for falling in love with a girl who couldn’t bear them grandchildren, even though she was Taiwanese. Being a Doctor was never what she wanted for herself. Could she convince her parents to let her out of their grasp and follow her dreams? My Thoughts • THE DIVERSITY. Can you point out a book to me with a Taiwanese protagonist? I loved that part. It was important, AND YET I felt the author could have put in some more of Taiwan rather than just some Mandarin words which I couldn’t pronounce, nor understand. For instance, Mei mentions that she was bought up Buddhist. But there’s no indication how. Same way, Mei was supposedly brilliant. But she’s pretty much clueless all the time. Also, it is set in MIT. Geddit? UNIVERSITY. Catch.• IF ANYBODY IS ASPIRING TO BE A DOCTOR, YOU BETTER NOT READ THIS BOOK. I understand Mei wasn’t cut out to be a doctor, but at least she could’ve emphasized how important the profession actually is. It shows us all the gross aspects of being a med student and eventually a doctor, but where are the better parts? • THE REPRESENTATION OF CONSERVATIVE PARENTS. It’s important for the world to see how things work everywhere else in the world. I personally related so much to Mei on the parental front, and it was just so lovely to see myself in a book, to know that there were others who felt the way I did.• THE RELATIONSHIPS. Whatever they are, your parents and elders do want the best for you. But outright disrespect towards them is only going to throw them off. I really did not agree with Mei on how she treated her family and elders. She never replied to her mother’s concerned messages or her aunt and granny’s voicemails. Idk, but that’s like teaching your kids to disrespect your elders. There wasn’t any relationship I could relate to, or agree with.• THE ROMANCE. It was kinda insta-love and there was no development. Mei goes on and on about how cute and adorable Darren is, but their relationship lacked any depth of emotions. I never once felt any spark, the kisses went right over my head, and the cuddling failed to tingle me.• THE WRITING. Although I feel Gloria Chao has real potential, her writing was actually quite simple and bland. It wasn’t the smoothest book I’ve read, and that’s kind of rare in YA literature where you usually fly through the books. It wasn’t the case here.• THE ENDING. Disappointing is all I can say. Gloria Chao went the usual way as is for every other YA lit out there. It’s utterly predictable and uninteresting. I can’t believe she had such an important and diverse story to tell and she decided to tell it this way. It basically destroys the purpose of this book and makes it no different than any other YA book.I had a feeling that I’d fall in love with this book which obviously didn’t happen. One of the reasons for me was how culture is treated here. Mei says she’s not just Taiwanese, but Taiwanese-American. But in the end, she chose to be just American. I want to see a protagonist who values their culture as much as it values them. The culture and traditions might be backward and might seem oppressive, but there are a lot of people who still value them, and value them for a reason. Being American and living in the American-way isn’t going to solve anything. There isn’t just one way to do things. You can embrace your culture and still belong. You can love your ancestors and still see the value of a free lifestyle. The book is set on convincing us that all traditions are bad and forbearing. I hate to see cultures and traditions demeaned this way. In the end, this book is just another book with an MC who categorizes as POC and isn’t happy. There’s a girl trying to follow her dreams, a failed romance, and inevitably predictable ending. You could chose to read this book or not. Either way, I assure you this isn’t the best cultural-PoC representation you’ll find.
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  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of Cedric: friendship goals. For more info on this challenge, click here. 🌟 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? Tha Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest🌟 I read this for the Yule Bingo Challenge, for the category of Cedric: friendship goals. For more info on this challenge, click here. 🌟 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 debut" I'm-so-twee bubbliness made me think this was going to be another vapid attempt to scratch at the surface of diversity without really going into any sort of conflict or detail.NOPE.Mei Lu is a freshman at MIT, despite being only seventeen (she was skipped a year). Her parents have big plans for her: they want her to be a doctor and marry the son of one of their friends, another Taiwanese doctor-to-be. The only problem is Mei doesn't want any of that. She's germophobic, and the thought of being a doctor and engaging with bodily fluids causes her to feel panicky and anxious; she wants to dance. She also doesn't want to marry anyone her parents have in mind; instead she wants to date a classmate, a Japanese boy named Darren. Unfortunately, in Mei's family, disobedience means terrible consequences. Her brother, Xing, has been disowned and erased by the family for his defiance. Mei only wants the chance to pursue her own dreams, but she's terrified of failing as the good daughter and losing her parents' affection if she does.This is such a good book. It's saturated with Taiwanese cultural references - fashion, arts, language, food - but being Taiwanese does not entirely comprise Mei's entire identity. Even though she's proud of being Taiwanese, she fights tradition while striving to find a way to balance her American identity and her desire for independence. In addition to that, there are all the struggles of being a first-year student: living on your own; meeting new people; finding a work-life balance; studying for exams. AMERICAN PANDA also tackles the harder subjects, too, like interracial dating and marriage and racism, including racism within Asian culture.Mei is such a great narrator. She's emotional and funny and cute, in a way that reminded me of Meg Cabot. Her love interest, Darren, is adorable. I lost it when I found out that he looked like a young Takeshi Kaneshiro - babe alert! I also really liked her friend Nicolette, and how their relationship grew stronger when Mei got over her own initial stereotypes about her roommate. Also, Ying-Na was amazing. Her storyline reminded me of the TV show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which you should totally watch if you haven't already). I would love to read a companion book about her journey.Perhaps the best aspect about this book was Mei's relationship with her family. It could be painful, and even though Mei's parents did terrible things, they weren't black-and-white characters. They believed they were doing the best for Mei even as they hurt her. Watching her relationship with them change over the course of the novel was amazing - especially with Mei's mom. Her story was quite touching and sad, and by the end of the book, I felt like I liked her almost as well as I liked Mei.Obviously, I loved this book and I think everyone should read it - especially if they've been fed up with some of the young adult offerings this year, as I have been. I can see this being one of the top nominees for the Goodreads Choice Awards next year, and I can guarantee it'll have my vote.Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!5 stars
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  • Monica
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Faye*
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 was cute. Yes, it was fluffy. Yes, there were also some heavy issues in it. But it was also MEH.I feel kind of bad that I’m giving this such a low rating because it really wasn’t a bad book; but at the same time, I felt bored through most of it and it was just “okay” for me… In conclusion, if you’re in the mood for a cute contemporary that doesn’t only have a cultural aspect, that sheds light on the difficulties many teenagers with Asian parents probably face, but also a main character with mental health issues*, you can still pick this up and will (I’m almost sure) not hate it. Like I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it, either, though. So, meh.although, disclaimer: I did have a bit of a problem with this aspect
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  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 family like that.
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  • Korrina (OwlCrate)
    January 1, 1970
    Very, very cute and quite funny too!
  • CW (Read Think Ponder)
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 with exposition to explain these elements of culture.While on the other hand...- In some parts, the pacing was a little weird. Some things happened so suddenly that left me feeling very confused and 'wtf just happened', i.e. the medical practice chapter. - I think some scenes tried to come off as comedy and slapstick, but it came off ridiculous to me. - Unfortunately, I didn't find this book funny. - Usually, I would find exaggeration charming and endearing, but in this... it felt ridiculous. Some of things felt like they were straight out of TVB - and I don't mean that as a positive thing. - For a book that was supposedly about breaking free from stereotype -- this book did use quite a few.Stuff I'm still mulling over/Thoughts:To preface, I know that this is a very personal opinion and may not have any bearing on the quality of the book. Nonetheless, my deeply personal experiences and feelings have influenced my experience of this book so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I'm just going to share.The cultural conflict stuff... ahhhh. I really really wish there was more nuance. I do appreciate and respect that people have experienced the same thing as Mei. I do not dismiss those experiences. And yet, I feel like it was more black and white than it often is. Indeed, Mei's parents were very traditional Taiwanese parents and true to their traditional Taiwanese values. On the other hand, Mei struggles with contending with their traditional values and finding her place within her American/individualist values. By the end of the novel - and please feel free to correct/debate with me - I felt like this book was ultimately a traditional/Taiwanese versus individualist/American debate, with a strong leaning towards individualist/American values. And that really rubs me off the wrong way. I mean, don't get me wrong, most of us pandas or bi/multicultural people experience inner cultural conflicts; all of us differ to the extent to which we're individualist versus interdependent and to the degree we feel more or less like we belong to a certain culture. And though Mei struggles with this biculturalism, some of the discourse was... very one-sided. The thing is, there's nothing wrong with seeing yourself as an interdependent individual - individualism is not always a positive, faultless thing, and I felt like this book presented individualism as such. And as someone who has been told that Individualism is Always Best (in favour of my own Chinese/interdependent values)... this rubbed me the wrong way. Moreover, I felt a little iffy about Mei's critique of tradition. Yes, there are some traditions that are harmful (especially to women!) and should not be practiced. But... there are some traditions and values that are inherent to a culture. I feel like they don't always have 'to make sense', particularly to people who do not practice it or understand it. Some 'traditions have historical, familial, and cultural significance, and to some people, these traditions are important to them and their identity. Therefore, I feel like 'what makes sense' as a benchmark for what is a good versus bad tradition... is really really iffy, particularly when there are individuals (I'm thinking xenophobes or people who do not belong to a culture) who are already very critical of cultural traditions and values because they 'just don't make sense'. Like, yikes.Again, I just wish there was more nuance. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  • chloe (semi-hiatus)
    January 1, 1970
    LOVE THIS SO MUCH! 我很愛這本書喔 (。♥‿♥。)1. IT'S SO, SO RELATABLE. 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 LOVE THIS SO MUCH! 我很愛這本書喔 (。♥‿♥。)1. IT'S SO, SO RELATABLE. 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 I RELATE SO HARD. My nose is so big it kind of looks like a pear. And I always pinch it, hoping I'll be able to make it smaller. (I've never heard of the big nose = fortune Chinese myth though! It's so interesting hahahaha I wonder if it works.)Clothing with misspelled words on them. HAHAHAHAHAHA I SEE THESE ALL THE TIME IN THE MARKETS WHERE I LIVE! I have a crop top with two smiley faces on it, and below them there's the word "simile" instead of "smile". I'm pretty sure that's a spelling mistake, but "simile"'s an actual word, and there are TWO smiley faces, so I think that works as well.Not just high school. I wore neon leggings and sweatpants with misspelled English for the first ten years of my life. Bums Bunny and Butman made me a target no matter what I did.2. MEI DECIDES TO FOLLOW HER DREAMS IN THE END.Mei, I am rooting for ya :) Mei's parents are kind of unreasonable, tbh. They plan out everything for her, making Mei skip one year of high school, go to MIT premed, and even pairing her so that she can produce some Taiwanese babies. That is kind of insane. Mei dreams of becoming a dancer, not a doctor. She's afraid of going against her parent's wishes, but soon realises that she can never become what her parents want her to be. (GOODNESS I SOUND LIKE MY LANGUAGE ARTS TEACHER SHE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT INTERNAL STRUGGLES AHAHAHAHA.)I love how bravely Mei pursues her dreams. Her parents might never understand them, but instead of letting anyone tell her what to do, Mei does what SHE wants to do at the end.3. DARREN TAKAHASHIHe took both my hands in his and turned me to face him. "I love you, Mei." My entire body froze. "I started falling for you when I first heard you talk about Horny, and then we moved on to beavers and nuts and magicians..." He placed a hand over his heart."I love you, too," I said, no hesitation. "Ever since you told me you wanted to try stinky tofu because it smells so bad."Darren = nerdy, friendly and supportive (my version of tall, dark and handsome ;)). HE'S ALSO BRAVE ENOUGH TO TRY STINKY TOFU + DANCE LIKE THERE'S NO ONE WATCHING and wow. I think my ever-growing list of book boyfriends just got longer.The best thing I love about Darren is how he always makes someone feel like they belong. Like when Mei needs emotional support, he is always there to give it and aaahh he's the sweetest guy ever I NEED A DARREN TAKAHASHI IN MY LIFE.4. MAMA LU'S MESSAGES TO MEI ARE HILARIOUS.Remember Amberly Ahn? She had eyelid surgery and it turned out great. We should think about doing that for you. Maybe we can tattoo your makeup on at the same time. Remember, there are no ugly women, only lazy women. Repeat that three times every morning.I don't know if I should call this hilarious, ridiculous, or ridiculously hilarious. It is evident that Mama Lu wants the best for Mei, but sometimes she can be quite annoying, and I totally feel Mei when she says that she doesn't want her life all planned out by her parents.I had a great laugh reading their messages though! 😂Overall Rating★★★★.5
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  • Shenwei
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Mel Anie
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 proper daughter at the same time. Seems like a hard nut to bite, ain't it? I loved this book ever since the beginning. I liked all those aspects of culture in which Mei was raised. All those funny proverbs and words - it all gave that deeper depth to this book. It was trully outstanding and such a pleasure to read.This book is also about a generational gap. People usually understand it as younger generations being used to new technological inventions while older generations aren't. Well, this book takes it further. It was a little bit shocking to me to see those two different perspectives and ideologies. From one side we had Mei's parents who were raised in Taiwan and on the other side, we have Mei, American-born girl with Taiwan and China's ancestry. It was truly refreshing to see those two somewhat different words 'clash' with each other.I need to also point that characters in this book, especially Mei, are ending on a positive scale in which I view characters from books. She is so unique and realistic that it was so hard to say goodbye to her and this book. It sort of felt like losing a friend.Definietly a book worth reading!__________________________________________________Please, be good and an easy read. Please, do not disappoint. *Fingers crossed*
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  • Kerri
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • ALEXA
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Book Riot Community
    January 1, 1970
    I try not to read books too far in advance because it means everyone else will have to wait before they too can experience the joy I’m feeling. Gloria Chao’s American Panda is about a Taiwanese-American girl named Mei who gets into college early (MIT) and has to straddle two cultures. It’s a story about the importance of traditions but also the room for evolution. I related so much to Mei’s experience as someone who came to Canada as an infant and navigating my relationship with parents as a res I try not to read books too far in advance because it means everyone else will have to wait before they too can experience the joy I’m feeling. Gloria Chao’s American Panda is about a Taiwanese-American girl named Mei who gets into college early (MIT) and has to straddle two cultures. It’s a story about the importance of traditions but also the room for evolution. I related so much to Mei’s experience as someone who came to Canada as an infant and navigating my relationship with parents as a result of it. It’s an earnest, funny and emotional story and I recommend adding it to your to-be-read list. It brought a ray of light to my July.—Ardo Omerfrom The Best Books We Read In July 2017: https://bookriot.com/2017/08/02/riot-...
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  • Bhavik (Semi Hiatus)
    January 1, 1970
    Thankfully this had a bittersweet not so HEA but a HEA nonetheless with some factors remaining unexplained leaving the reader guessing whatever happened, because I wouldn't have had it otherway!Giving it an HEA while all good seems to me like all the other pages filled with strife were for naught...so kudos to Gloria for not doing that.I get the feeling the book was written primarily with women in mind but ofcourse anybody is welcome to read it.Altho I only know how I went through the chapters c Thankfully this had a bittersweet not so HEA but a HEA nonetheless with some factors remaining unexplained leaving the reader guessing whatever happened, because I wouldn't have had it otherway!Giving it an HEA while all good seems to me like all the other pages filled with strife were for naught...so kudos to Gloria for not doing that.I get the feeling the book was written primarily with women in mind but ofcourse anybody is welcome to read it.Altho I only know how I went through the chapters containing vaginas , things that can happen in and around vaginas and all the icky things doctor have to do in their profession while I was eating food. Felt like a sex ed I never recieved and me thanking my stars to not become a doctor bc I knew what was in store for me and boy am I glad. [ Absolutely no offence to all the Docs , y'all are awesome and keep doing the amazing things you do! ]Pros1. The representation was done and handled nicely to some extent.2. The love interest was not some alpha male with hot body filled with abs and all those sexy descriptions about eyes and everything but rather just a normal regular guy.3. SO MUCH RELATABLE STUFF.5. The funny times were actually funny sometimes...some did go over my head but thats okay..depends on person to person.6.Author for writing "And for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t belong" in her dedication for the book.7. Pretty fast paced imo which was perfect.Cons1. The chinese words. Goddamit why would you not give us translations for everything? Who's gonna google everytime for something like this?2. The doctor rep. I know Mei wasnt cut out for it but the book only showed the icky stuff and thats what is part and parcel of the doc life and could have been handled better.3. The uproar between parents and Mei could have been handled better...Mei was such an ass sometimes however I respect her tries because I know how frustrating it can get and honestly I cant blame her for that.5. A bit insta-lovey but thankfully no sex scenes so praise be! and no character development too lol6. THE CHINESE WORDS7. Bit frustrating at times.8. The whole Taiwanese-American thing...Mei felt more for individualism and American than the ancestral roots (okay idk how to express what I want to say here so I am just gonna leave this here and let y'all ponder)Overall a fun and tension filled novel , a decent debut novel at that ....could have been better.The author definitely has the potential to grow and write much better.oh and if y'all didn't notice...I skipped point 4s because apparently four spelled in chinese is bad luck and I already have plate full of that to add more. Also wouldn't want this review to go unnoticed especially since its my first complete thought out review after a long long time ;)Oh and I read this for fun and went without any expectations.And the book may have made my depressed me during the start....
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  • Janani
    January 1, 1970
    Just. So. Good. Keep an eye out for this in Feb 2018. Full review to come.UPDATE: First published at The Shrinkette.Thanks so much to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Plot: Seventeen-year old Mei is a freshman at MIT, thanks to skipping fourth grade- all part of her parents’ master plan. This plan also includes Mei becoming a doctor, marrying a Taiwanese boy selected by her parents, and have a bunch of babies. Unfortunately, between her hatred Just. So. Good. Keep an eye out for this in Feb 2018. Full review to come.UPDATE: First published at The Shrinkette.Thanks so much to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Plot: Seventeen-year old Mei is a freshman at MIT, thanks to skipping fourth grade- all part of her parents’ master plan. This plan also includes Mei becoming a doctor, marrying a Taiwanese boy selected by her parents, and have a bunch of babies. Unfortunately, between her hatred of germs, her inability to stay awake during biology lectures, and a crush on her Japanese classmate Darren, Mei knows that she doesn’t want this future that her parents have planned and worked so hard for. When she reconnects with her estranged brother Xing, she begins to wonder whether it was worth keeping so many secrets from her parents, or if it was possible for her to find a way to live life on her terms. I think the Goodreads synopsis of this contemporary YA novel can be a little misleading. I went in expecting a hilarious romantic comedy of errors, but instead was hit with a plethora of intensely complicated emotional drama. Gloria delivers a very real story that is not uncommon in many Asian families. Mei is a strong narrator throughout the book, and I found myself getting caught up in her angst and conflicting emotions. She’s clearly experiencing a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance- wanting to make her parents happy and not let their sacrifices go for nought, while at the same time having ambitions and dreams of her own that are so far left field from what her parents have envisioned for her. While I didn’t grow up with parents as intense as Mei’s, my expat childhood was filled with a lot of these constant, conflicting desires. Gloria does an excellent job as portraying them for what they are- hardworking immigrant parents who’ve lived their lives holding firmly onto these perspectives and values and wanting their kids to have a secure future to the point where they’ve lost sight of personal happiness and their kids’ happiness, and the fact that the world and the country they live in is very different from the one they grew up in. Mei’s parents are very conservative and old-fashioned, ascribe to all manner of superstitions and beliefs, and yes, their love is conditional on their kids’ obedience- as evidenced by the fact that their son is estranged for falling in love with a non-parental-approved girl. I developed a certain appreciation for Mei’s mother, especially towards the end of the book. She’s a complex woman, her own story is sad and touching, and as a reader you’re definitely given some perspective on how the same cultural values and beliefs she upholds has had its effect on her own life. Mei’s character arc itself is really strongly written and great to follow- she goes from being the kid who is too scared and too sheltered to disobey her parents, to a person that accepts that in order to live her life on her terms she is going to have to be okay with disappointing them once in a while. Boy, is that a life lesson, and one that does not get easy over time (yes, this is indeed the voice of experience). Juxtaposing her passion for dance and her lack of interest in her pre-med courses is a really good choice in terms of the writing and helps with the progression of the story. It also really made me empathize with her emotional turmoil. I also absolutely loved that she’s a college student; that transitioning worldview and exposure to a plethora of ideas, experiences, and possibilities was one that I related to completely because I remember experiencing those things when I was 17 and had moved away from my parents for the first time. It’s exhilarating and nerve-wracking, and superbly depicted in the story. As for the other side characters: I adored her brother, and I was super invested in their relationship. Again, I could relate to that entire story arc on a personal level (not my immediate experience, but it’s happened within our family). You can still see how he does hang onto some of the values he was raised with, and it’s interesting to see how sometimes you can fall into the traps of sharing your parents’ thought processes even if you don’t mean to. Ying-Na serves as a reference for all the things that could happen if you choose to go against your conservative parents and community, and I really liked how she doesn’t just remain a caricature in the end. Darren is an adorable love interest, but I definitely appreciated that their romance was a secondary arc that was there to reinforce the primary narrative instead of taking over Mei’s story. Overall, this is an intense and emotional read. All the tiny pieces of the puzzle don’t miraculously fall into place in the end; these characters are all a work in progress, as in life, which I appreciate deeply. Unfortunately I didn’t write this review before my ARC expired but I think there’s a potentially amatonormative sentence in there somewhere that made me wince (don’t quote me on this, I don’t remember it. I’ll just have to wait for the finished copy to double-check). However, this novel is still deeply personal and Gloria’s voice and writing are an important addition to the Asian diaspora. Familial expectations versus following the path of uncertainty; undoubtedly, many will find a home, heart, and connection in it.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    3.5*This was a cute read about a Taiwanese girl breaking away from her family’s wishes and traditions to live her own life at MIT. I actually breezed right through this book because it had a lot of funny moments and Mei was such a likeable character. It was uplifting when Mei and Xing reunited and regained their sibling bond which was crucial for Mei to have the courage to finally stick up for what she wanted. This was a really cute book. My quick and simple overall: adorable and uplifting with 3.5*This was a cute read about a Taiwanese girl breaking away from her family’s wishes and traditions to live her own life at MIT. I actually breezed right through this book because it had a lot of funny moments and Mei was such a likeable character. It was uplifting when Mei and Xing reunited and regained their sibling bond which was crucial for Mei to have the courage to finally stick up for what she wanted. This was a really cute book. My quick and simple overall: adorable and uplifting with a character readers cannot help but cheer for!
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  • Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
    January 1, 1970
    Omg another Asian model on the cover... this is just so brilliant to see!
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