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
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, Young Adult Contemporary

American Panda Review

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    “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 Chinese / Taiwanese girl struggling with her strict parents and with trying to carve her own path. And holy crap. It’s awesome.Americ “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 Chinese / Taiwanese 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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  •  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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  • Korrina (OwlCrate)
    January 1, 1970
    Very, very cute and quite funny too!
  • 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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  • 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.
  • 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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  • Rachel Solomon
    January 1, 1970
    AMERICAN PANDA floored me with its nonstop humor and fresh voice, and then it sneakily broke my heart. Protagonist Mei's Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor, but she pictures a different future for herself, perhaps one involving her love of dance. I've never seen a parent-child culture clash portrayed in quite this way; Mei clearly loves her mother and respects her culture, but she also aches for her independence.I also LOVED that this book takes place during Mei's freshman year at MIT AMERICAN PANDA floored me with its nonstop humor and fresh voice, and then it sneakily broke my heart. Protagonist Mei's Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor, but she pictures a different future for herself, perhaps one involving her love of dance. I've never seen a parent-child culture clash portrayed in quite this way; Mei clearly loves her mother and respects her culture, but she also aches for her independence.I also LOVED that this book takes place during Mei's freshman year at MIT, a rare setting for YA but one I desperately want to see more. It's still 100 percent a coming-of-age story, a story about identity, a story about being pinned between two worlds and how to forge your own path.Gloria Chao's debut is not to be missed. I can't wait to hug AMERICAN PANDA when it comes out in 2018.
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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!
  • Janani
    January 1, 1970
    Just. So. Good. Keep an eye out for this in Feb 2018. Full review to come.
  • Ava
    January 1, 1970
    FEBRUARY 2018. YOU SHOULD BE COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS UNTIL THIS BOOK RELEASES.
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