Nan’s Notes: American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

  • Gene Luen Yang
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Pub. Date: December 2008
  • 233 pp
  • colored by cartoonist Lark Pien
  • finalist for the 2006 National Book Awards
  • 2007 Michael L. Printz Award.
I read this book back in October during the Read-a-thon. I really wish I had written the review before now! I returned the book many weeks ago, so this is from my memory.
As I was reading American Born Chinese I was very uncomfortable with the racial slurs and stereotypes, especially in the parts about the sit-com. I almost put the book down several times because of my discomfort. But, I kept with it and I’m really glad I did. This graphic novel has three stories that are told throughout. The following brief summary is from the author’s website:
With American Born Chinese, I’m trying to say something about my experiences growing up as an Asian-American by telling three different stories. The first stars the Monkey King, folk hero of Chinese legend; the second recounts the struggles of a Chinese-American boy trying to fit into a predominantly white suburb; and the third is a sit-com starring everybody’s favorite racial stereotype, Cousin Chin-Kee.
I do not want to give away too much from the book, but the three stories come together at the end in a way that I did not see coming at all. I was so surprised when they how they came together! When I finished the book, I didn’t just want to talk about it with someone who had read it, I needed to talk about it. When I went back to school on Monday, I went right to a coworker who teaches a multicultural children’s lit class to see if she had read it. She had and we chatted for quite awhile. I might even see if I can sit in on her class when they read it so I can chat with others who have read it.
Pick up this book and give it a read. Then come back and talk with  me about it. 🙂
One thing I can say for sure, I am still thinking about this book over a month later!
Rating: 4/5

2 Responses

  1. I definitely agree this was an uncomfortable book. I wasn’t sure what to think about it, honestly. I didn’t have anyone to talk it over with. I was so surprised how the stories came together. I didn’t expect it at all.

  2. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one completely surprised how they came together!

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