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? ~via Goodreads
Publication Date: February 6th 2018
American Panda is such a fun and sweet read. I found myself giggling throughout – thoroughly enjoying myself from cover to cover. And even though I may not entirely understand the world Mei lives in, I found myself connecting to her character and cheering for her again and again. Beyond the laugh out loud moments were the moments of sadness and frustration – just because I really cared for Mei.
Mei, a Taiwanese- American, is only seventeen but is already starting college at MIT. Her parents have a very set vision for who Mei will become, who she will marry, and there is absolutely zero compromise. Mei’s estranged brother Xing is the clear example of what happens when you go against the wishes of their parents. The problem is, Mei doesn’t want the life that her parents have mapped out for her and so the web of secrets begins.
From old traditions, to high expectations, and some extremely strict family values, American Panda is a voice for any teen who is finding their own and is discovering that they are an individual who may be different than what their parents are expecting them to be. And though I may not be intimately familiar with Taiwanese culture, I loved that I was able to experience a bit through Mei.
As for the cast of characters in American Panda, I was absolutely blown away by Mei. She has such a fierce and honest voice, making her immediately like-able and relatable. Even Mei’s family, Darren, and her friends had such striking personalities. You either loved them or grew to love them (mostly).
American Panda is a great book for YA Contemporary fans. The characters are diverse, the story is fresh, and the pace is perfect. Not to mention, the cover is simply adorable (I’m a sucker for great cover art). Do yourself a favor – grab some hot chocolate and enjoy this sweetheart of a book!
I gave American Panda 4/5 stars!
Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. AMERICAN PANDA is her debut novel, coming out February 6, 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.
Gloria currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she be-came a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out.
Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at gloriachao.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @gloriacchao.
Prize: 1 finished copy of AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao
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