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American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese (2006)

by Gene Luen Yang

Other authors: Lark Pien (Colorist)

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English (226)  Japanese (1)  French (1)  All languages (228)
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
  LeonaL | Jul 1, 2015 |
I thought this book was captivating! Not only because of the story it tells but because of the way it is written. ( )
  rebeccar76 | Jun 24, 2015 |
A very, very clever book, American Born Chinese combines a cartoonish, light-hearted art style with a much heavier statement on what it means to be from a different culture. The story is separated into three parts, that of Jin Wang, a young Chinese boy who feels like an outsider and isolated from his American classmates; Danny, the all-American boy with an embarrassing cousin from China; and the Monkey King, who is denied entry from a dinner party in heaven due to his being... well, a monkey.

The clean, colorful artwork manages to support both the jokes (quite a few panels and lines had me laughing out loud) and the message - and actually emphasizes the message. Gene Yang's story is subtle, using stereotypes and parables to allow his meaning to come through, but never veers into preachy. More serious moments, like when two idiots from the school loudly make racial slurs in front of Jin Wang and his friends, are wedged so tightly between the jokes that it actually gives the scene more weight.

The story of Jin Wang, in particular, reminded me of Anya's Ghost. Similarly, the main characters from both feel pressure to be more "American" and ignore their cultural heritage (Chinese and Russian, respectively), to the point that when a new classmate joins in who is not as Americanized, they actively avoid associating with them. I will say that Anya's Ghost perhaps was more true to kids and their often not particularly mature reactions, but where American Born Chinese really shines is making the three intersecting story-lines the focus: it leads to a tightly-woven, funny, and very smart story about what it feels like to be the outsider because of your culture. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
I have not read many graphic novels and this was my first graphic novel for this age level. I loved Lark Pien's color comic illustrations. I think this is a great novel for young adults and teens, but it is not my favorite book. I understand and appreciate why the author created Chin-Kee, but at some points I think he did cross the line. However, I liked how the author weaved the characters stories together and I liked how Jin and Monkey King end up happy to be themselves. This graphic novel could be used to discuss stereotypes and racial struggles.
  MSara | Apr 14, 2015 |
21. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (2006, 233 page paperback, Read Mar 18)

Yang mixes his experiences being raised in the United States by Chinese-born and culturally Chinese parents with stories from Chinese mythology. Not knowing anything about Chinese mythology, I thought the combined effect was terrific. He includes a brutal picture of how American culture portrays Chinese in America.

It's funny how things work, but while reading I really enjoyed the Chinese mythology aspect, but in hindsight I mainly remember the racist aspect. Yang creates a virtual sitcom where a "normal" American adolescent boy in a perfect little world is visited and horrified by his Chinese cousin who fits every Chinese racial extreme - smiling, talking funny, eating disgusting food and knowing everything, all marked by canned laughter. This sitcom story is just randomly mixed in between the stories of a monkey god kicked out of heaven and of something that probably closely resembles Yang's actual adolescence. Then at the end Yang puts together how both the "normal" boy and the Chinese boy are both aspects of his self image - of what he wants to be and what he fears. And his inability to deal with or understand who he is.

I don't think I actually expected to like this. Instead I found it a terrific graphic novel that I expect I will remember. ( )
2 vote dchaikin | Mar 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)

School Library Journal Review
Starred Review. Gr 7 Up Graphic novels that focus on nonwhite characters are exceedingly rare in American comics. Enter American Born Chinese, a well-crafted work that aptly explores issues of self-image, cultural identity, transformation, and self-acceptance. In a series of three linked tales, the central characters are introduced: Jin Wang, a teen who meets with ridicule and social isolation when his family moves from San Francisco s Chinatown to an exclusively white suburb; Danny, a popular blond, blue-eyed high school jock whose social status is jeopardized when his goofy, embarrassing Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, enrolls at his high school; and the Monkey King who, unsatisfied with his current sovereign, desperately longs to be elevated to the status of a god. Their stories converge into a satisfying coming-of-age novel that aptly blends traditional Chinese fables and legends with bathroom humor, action figures, and playground politics. Yang s crisp line drawings, linear panel arrangement, and muted colors provide a strong visual complement to the textual narrative. 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. Philip Charles Crawford, Essex High School, Essex Junction, VT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From: Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright Reed Business Information

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gene Luen Yangprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pien, LarkColoristsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To Ma,
for her stories of the Monkey King

And Ba,
for his stories of Ah-Tong, the Taiwanese village boy
First words
One bright and starry night, the Gods the Goddesses, the demons, and the spirits gathered in heaven for a dinner party.
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Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A great mix of mythology and the second generation immigrant experience told with wit, insight and humour. The graphic novel format is spot-on for this book. The illustrations contribute powerfully to the text.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312384483, Paperback)

Indie graphic novelist Gene Yang's intelligent and emotionally challenging American Born Chinese is made up of three individual plotlines: the determined efforts of the Chinese folk hero Monkey King to shed his humble roots and be revered as a god; the struggles faced by Jin Wang, a lonely Asian American middle school student who would do anything to fit in with his white classmates; and the sitcom plight of Danny, an All-American teen so shamed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (a purposefully painful ethnic stereotype) that he is forced to change schools. Each story works well on its own, but Yang engineers a clever convergence of these parallel tales into a powerful climax that destroys the hateful stereotype of Chin-Kee, while leaving both Jin Wang and the Monkey King satisfied and happy to be who they are.

Yang skillfully weaves these affecting, often humorous stories together to create a masterful commentary about race, identity, and self-acceptance that has earned him a spot as a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People. The artwork, rendered in a chromatically cool palette, is crisp and clear, with clean white space around center panels that sharply focuses the reader's attention in on Yang's achingly familiar characters. There isn't an adolescent alive who won't be able to relate to Jin's wish to be someone other than who he is, and his gradual realization that there is no better feeling than being comfortable in your own skin.--Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture. Presented in comic book format.

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