“I couldn’t go through life as a shadow.”
Title: American Panda
Author: Gloria Chao
Date Published: February 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 311 pages
📚 Series: No.
📚 Genre: YA Contemporary Romance.
📚 Cliffhanger: No.
⚠ Content Warnings: Asian stereotypes. Sex-shaming. Cultural differences. Detailed descriptions of health concerns and germs. Fatphobia.
⚠ Read if: you love some Asian rep.
Book Blurb from Goodreads
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?
About the Author
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda and Our Wayward Fate. Her wayward journey to fiction included studying business at MIT, then becoming a dentist. Gloria was once a black belt in kung-fu and an avid dancer, but nowadays you can find her teaming up with her husband on the curling ice.
Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.Wordpress.com, and find her on Twitter and Instagram @GloriacChao.
Disclaimer: I am Filipino living in the Philippines. Therefore, I do not know the accuracy of this one on Taiwanese rep.
American Panda is a surprising read and a win for Asian representation in YA books. Though technically, this book has a Taiwanese-American protagonist, it was a refreshing experience and I appreciate it paving the way for even more Asian rep in YA books.
Mei is in MIT for uni and her parents dream that she becomes a doctor, but she loves to dance and is a germophobe. She is Taiwanese-American with a heavily traditional family that can feel like something very controlling.
I have to admit it was fun seeing glimpses of Asian culture in general, seeing the similarities of what I grew up with to Mei’s experiences. I also love lots of Mandarin and Chinese superstitions. The overall appeal of this book brings lots of laughs but moments to shed tears, too.
Though this book has a romance aspect, which is an insta-love, the real message of this book is in finding oneself and how it aligns to a closely-knit family dynamic.
I have to admit that there are some cons, like a rushed romance, lack of focus on the dancing, too much bad rep on taking up medicine, some sex-shaming, too much stereotyping, and some immature jokes.
Overall, I still enjoyed reading this as an audiobook. The production was perfect for the book’s message. This story is still quite charming and relatable.
My Book Rating Breakdown
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Significant Other: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Romance: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Audiobook Production: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☁ FINAL VERDICT: 4.08/5 ☁
What’s a holiday read you can recommend? Tell me in the comments!