Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Title: American Panda
Author: Gloria Chao
Year Published: 2018


Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 304
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (MA)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): At seventeen, Mei Lu 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 the 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 she 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?


Review: Another fun YA novel! This one was recommended by Rummanah at Books in the Spotlight. Not only is the story a good one, but the characters interesting, and I learned a lot as well.

Parents put pressure on their children even if for each family the pressures are different. For me, academic pressure was huge as was behaving myself. I am so good at guilt that my parents didn't have to give me a curfew or ever ground me. I automatically behaved myself. That doesn't mean I never messed up, just that I knew they disapproved and I would correct my course on my own. Mei's parents are mine on steroids. They have her whole life planned and it doesn't matter what she thinks or wants. 

At first I thought the book was laying it on a bit thick in the "controlling Chinese tiger parents" division, but her note at the end says it is all based on her upbringing and those of her friends. Wow. Talk about pressure. It is good to see a main character struggle to find her voice and think about what she wants. Through this process I learned a ton about Taiwanese culture, which was really interesting.

I also learned a bunch about MIT, which was fun. MIT seems to have it's own language, is big on pranks, and uses numbers for course titles and buildings instead of names. And yes, there's some romance. There usually is in YA novels. But it's well done and I was routing for them throughout the book.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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