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Gloria Chao

Author of American Panda

5+ Works 670 Members 56 Reviews 1 Favorited

Works by Gloria Chao

American Panda (2018) 414 copies
Rent a Boyfriend (2020) 141 copies
Our Wayward Fate (2019) 60 copies
Misaligned 1 copy

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As sweet as a cinnamon roll, this YA romance centers two teens who love their community and each other, but don't dare admit it. With a dash of humor and a generous helping of lyrical lines, this author has written romance to remember.

Kai and Liya are best friends, but their families are rivals, a long-standing feud ignited by trash in a shared alleyway and an exploding dumpster. When a hilarious-for-the-reader misunderstanding pulls them apart, it takes Liya discovering her family's shop is in crisis to pull them together. Together, they find new ways to pull their Chinatown community together through cultural festivals and granting wishes while they work to save Liya's grandmother's beloved business.

The cutest part of this book is the wishes. Liya and Kai work as wish fairies behind the scenes to help the wishes people write on the lanterns come true. In addition to playing matchmaker for elderly couples, they also get a dog adopted and help a boy's father accept his dreams of playing basketball. A few nudges, a little manipulation and presto, wish granted! But the biggest question is: will Liya and Kai ever get the courage to grant their own wish and be together?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Asingrey | 5 other reviews | Jan 27, 2024 |
Not-entirely-intentional YA stretch continues! First off, I'm glad this book exists. Contemporary YA for Asian Americans is necessary- growing up I can think of [a:Lensey Namioka|26612|Lensey Namioka|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1209043915p2/26612.jpg]'s Yang siblings and some of [a:Laurence Yep|14199|Laurence Yep|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1208559025p2/14199.jpg]'s stuff ([b:Ribbons|25284|Ribbons|Laurence Yep|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1392175703s/25284.jpg|26028], [b:The Cook's Family|25265|The Cook's Family|Laurence Yep|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1167628964s/25265.jpg|2927742] etc.) but it'd be nice to count authors on more than one hand.

American Panda is a cute debut novel. While we've seen variations on the "Tiger parents" scenario in other stories, have any really addressed what happens when a sibling is disowned? Four years prior to the start of the story, Mei's brother was cut off from family for loving a girl with reproductive issues, so all of the pressure to be the perfect golden child now falls on her shoulders. It's a lot to deal with alongside a first year at college (and while a teenager to boot) and grappling with the idea that maybe germophobes don't make great doctors.

I'm 3rd or 4th generation depending on which side you look at, so I certainly don't have similar pressures as Mei (I've been told it's not a race to have kids lol), but dealing with estrangement from people who love you but are holding you at arms length because of that love? oooh resonance. At least one of my rating stars is for Xing because that is a hella rough place to be in, especially while taking the high road in interactions. I also recall older generations having very negative associations with Japanese people, somewhat justified by personal experience but not a good enough excuse to yell at a pair of 20 somethings in the 90s, so that too has some truth grains for me.

The author is clearly an MIT grad, because there's a lot of very granular detail that's likely understood by people who went there. I went to a talk recently where the speaker said, "It's okay to have multiple identities", and the presence of Taiwanese, dance, and MIT-specific shibboleths speaks to that. I do think the "I'm here a year younger than my peers because I skipped a grade!" thing could've been explored more because teen girl anxiety (or maybe it's for the best it wasn't, because a year off doesn't seem that out of the ordinary?)
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Daumari | 35 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |
* I got this book for review from the publisher*
I loved this book so much. It was so sweet and loved the friends to mroe element. I also loved the "magic element" it gzve me the charmed list vibes but less magaical and more small town vibes. I also thought this book was softer verious og the complex realtiomships the main character that had with their parents. This book was a bit of softer read but also had harder topics like grief. This book also ahd massive self didvocery plot line for both characters!! Def a new favorite by this author!!… (more)
 
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lmauro123 | 5 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |
I really did enjoy this book I really liked how this book really give me insight to a totally different culture and found it really eye opening. Mei is a character that grew on me but she def could be a harder characters. I liked the romance but did not love it. I really did like the self discovery part of this novel and dealing with finding your dream path and dealing with parent objections. I also like how the phone calls really framed this novel and was a nice sturcuring element. I hope to read more books by this author in the future.
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lmauro123 | 35 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |

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