Saturday, September 12, 2020

American Panda

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? - excerpt from Goodreads.

American Panda from Gloria Chao is about growing up too fast and trying to stand up for your dreams. Centered around an American born Asian girl whose parents immigrated from Taiwan, this story is definitely one of its kind in the YA world. I was really happy when I finished this because the author is able to convey a different perspective for other readers who are of different race and backgrounds. Although I'm not an American, I still manage to relate to the character, perhaps it has to do with being Asian. Of course there are many different circumstances when it comes to our rights and situations but the some of the values of a Chinese are always the same, no matter where you are at.

Mei and her family is quite the typical Asian family and whatever stereotypes of Chinese that you can think of, straight A student, must achieve to study and graduate in the medical field, and not believing in the creative arts (because it won't make you money). Through the interactions of Mei with her family, there are often mandarin words or idioms used to describe a situation and I love this part of the book so much, because I know that some expressions are so much easier to express in your own mother tongue. These words also project the expectations and personalities of Mei and her family. 

Whenever an Asian habit such as relating to money, I could not help but laugh because it's true for myself as well. Even the typical family stories that is surrounding them is facts, the nosy aunty, the judgmental grandma, the hopes and dreams on the son of the family and many more.  Mei herself is a timid person and I love how being thrown into situations that you cannot imagine have made her grow and blossom. The parents were realistic characters because of their circumstances, it made them who they are today and how they educate their children. As for other characters that are involves, I would say they bring out a different side of Mei, the side where her parents are not around. I absolutely love it when Mei is interacting with her love interest because of the different backgrounds, it's often sweet and cute.

Each chapter has a different title, which shows how much thought the author puts into giving a direction for the readers. Plots are driven by situations happening to Mei in university as well as family problems. The strict cultures and superstitions are also mentioned in the plots and it definitely gives an accurate representations of a Chinese family. I love how you can smoothly just read and accept the things and changes that is happening to Mei, instead of predicting and wondering what happens next.

In summary this book is more than Mei growing up and finding herself, it's also about family growing and learning to accept changes at the same time. I love every part of the book especially the struggles and sacrifices of parents when migrating to a new country. So much history and background is often brought over but it's a foreign land now and you eventually would have to adapt. It's also about first generation Asians being in America and the struggles they have with society and with family values that might not be suitable anymore in this new era. I highly recommend this as you get to read and learn about a different perspective and understand that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

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