Review: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

I started reading this in the middle of the night because when you can’t fall asleep after a certain hour, you surrender and pick up a book.

And for once in my life I was pretty happy about being awake in the early morning hours because I realized rather quickly that American Born Chinese is one of the best graphic novels I’ve read so far.

american-born-chinese-1-bookspoilsThis review contains *spoilers*.

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

The writer captured the feelings of having a crush so damn perfectly. It was like someone was reading my mind.
american-born-chinese-5-bookspoilsIt perfectly captured the essence of it.

And along the way, we smoothly follow the story of the Monkey King:american-born-chinese-10-bookspoilsBorn to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…
american-born-chinese-3-bookspoilsChin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

I kept thinking throughout my reading experience how Danny was in any way relevant. I didn’t know if we’re supposed to feel sorry for him… because I didn’t. He kept acting like an entitled white boy with little to no problems. american-born-chinese-4-bookspoilsEntitled white boy or what??

But then.
Then the three stories get connected and it completely knocked my socks off. Because it seemingly follows three unrelated tales until it all comes together for an epic – truly epic – twist that I didn’t see coming from a mile off.
It was pure brilliance.american-born-chinese-6-bookspoilsI was all, NOW WAIT JUST A DAMN MINUTE…..american-born-chinese-9-bookspoilsLiterally applauding Gene Luen Yang for this reveal that I did not see coming at all!!

And here’s a pretty accurate visual of me when the reveal came:american-born-chinese-2-bookspoilsI was shaking.

And praising the writer even more for that ending and how intricate and well-plotted everything was thought out to the last detail.  I seriously cannot stop thinking about everything that went down. There’s so much to discuss: from white privilege to stereotypes to what it means to accept yourself… And everything was handled with brilliance.

P.S. Wei-Chen is one of the best!!!

It’s really been such a long time since a graphic novel has captured my heart like this. I read American Born Chinese in one breath and now I cannot stop raving about it.

5/5 stars 

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying American Born Chinese, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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