- Age Range: 12 - 18 years
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Lexile Measure: GN530L (What's this?)
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Square Fish; First edition (December 23, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312384483
- ISBN-13: 978-0312384487
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 424 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Born Chinese Paperback – December 23, 2008
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“Gene Luen Yang has created that rare article: a youthful tale with something new to say about American youth.” ―New York Times Book Review
“Like Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Laurence Yep's Dragonwings, this novel explores the impact of the American dream on those outside the dominant culture in a finely wrought story that is an effective combination of humor and drama.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
“. . . brilliantly written and designed, sophisticated and wise.” ―The Miami Herald
“. . . one of the most powerful and entertaining works of literature to be published this year . . .” ―The San Francisco Chronicle
“Yang accomplishes the remarkable feat of practicing what he preaches with this book: accept who you are and you'll already have reached out to others.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Kids fighting an uphill battle to convince parents and teachers of the literary merit of graphic novels will do well to share this title.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Each of the characters is flawed but familiar, and, in a clever postmodern twist, all share a deep, unforeseen connection. Yang helps the humor shine by using his art to exaggerate or oppose the words, creating a synthesis that marks an accomplished graphic storyteller. The stories have a simple, engaging sweep to them, but their weighty subjects––shame, racism, and friendship––receive thoughtful, powerful examination.” ―Booklist
“This graphic novel could be especially cathartic for teens and adults of Asian descent, but people of any ethnicity would find themselves reflected in the universal themes of self-acceptance, peer pressure, and racial tensions.” ―Voice of Youth Advocates
From the Author
I started American Born Chinese about five years into my comics career. (Though at the time, it was really more of a vocation since I wasn't making any money at it.) Up 'til then, I'd done a couple of stories with Asian-American protagonists, but I never dealt with the Asian-American experience head-on. Since my own ethnic heritage is such an important part of how I understand myself, I knew I wanted to. I came up with three ideas and couldn't decide which one was the best. American Born Chinese is me doing all three at once.
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Three seemingly unrelated tales interwoven until they all wrap up together at the end. You have the Monkey King who has trained and studied to be accepted into Heaven with the other Gods but is shut out because he is only a monkey. There is Danny, an all-American boy, who is continuously embarrassed every time his cousin Chen-Kee visits from China and behaves as the most horrific characterization of every horrible Chinese stereotype ever. And then there is Jin Wang, a new student in a new school, trying to fit in with his all-American classmates and horrified when a boy from Taiwan starts at the school and wants to be friends with him because what will that do to his chances with the girl he is falling for? All three main characters are dealing the fact that they are not happy in their own skin and looking for acceptance from outside is not working out so well for any of them.
My older son read this for his college comics class and recommended it to me. It has won several awards and it's easy to see why. The graphic novel format allows it to swing back and forth between the stories easily and conveys the thoughts much easier than I think the written word alone would have allowed for. The interweaving of the stories was well done although a bit heavy handed at the end on the moral but since it's such an important one, it's easy to forgive.
Favorite quote: "I was forbidden to date until I had at least a Master's degree" (163). Spent a good 30 second laughing a hearty laugh.
One character embodies all the stereotypical racial ideas that many Westerners had and still have about Chinese and other Asians. This is a great middle school-age book that is so well-written, illustrated and colorful.
American Born Chinese has won a list of awards and it deserves every one of them.