American Born Chinese
Author: Gene Luen Yang
It’s been a while since I put this book on my to-read list. I actually wanted to buy it while I was in China this year. When I saw it on bookshelves of one of Beijing bookstores I wanted to buy it so badly. But after a thought or two I decided that I will buy some other books instead. So the book stayed there, on that shelve and also on my to-read list.
Yesterday it crossed my path again and because I was in a mood for a graphic novel I decided to give it a chance. And I was not sorry because this book was just fantastic!
There are three different stories in this book and at the end they all connect. First is a story about American born Chinese Jin Wang, who moves into another place with his parents and starts to attend a new school, where he’s the only Asian. The second story is about Monkey King – Monkey King is also figure from famous Chinese fable. The third story is about Chin-Kee who represents a typical Chinese stereotype. I had problems when I started reading this book because I didn’t know how all three stories are connected and it was disturbing a little bit. But like I already said, they all connect at the end very well and make a fantastic ending.
This is a story about identity issues and how hard is (sometimes) to combine two different cultures. It’s especially hard for young people like Jin who is in a particularly difficult period of his life – he’s a regular teenager with all the problems teenagers have. And he has one more – he’s different because he’s Asian. Everyone in his school is making fun of him and he has no friends. Because of that he isolates himself and he’s ashamed of who he is. But after a while he tries to fit in in the worst way possible – he tries to be/become somebody else.
But the whole story is written in such an amazing way. It’s funny but in the same time it’s sad because of seriousness of the topic. It’s also worth to think it over and the best thing is that author succeeded to pass the story without moralizing. But not only the story, illustrations are also really nice. I read this book in one sitting and I would say that it’s appropriate for all kinds of readers. Because anyone can find himself in this story.