Gene Luen Yang. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006
Audience: middle school through high school
Read Aloud: Read Aloud
Summary: There are many stories that intertwine with each other in this graphic novel. The book starts out where Monkey king of flower fruit mountain attends a dinner party and is kicked out for not wearing any shoes. Thus he causes a scene at the party and is sent to be executed. Instead he goes through a journey to realize himself. Then there is Jin Wang who attends school as a new student. He is trying to fit in but is having trouble because of his race. The students discriminate him and make false accusations about his culture and he does not have many friends. There is only one another Asian in the school which is Suzy Nakamura. Jin Wang tries to stay away from her because he will get made fun of. Then another student transfers into the school, Wei Chen Sun, and him and Jin Wang become close friends. Another significant character is Danny. Danny is a freshman in high school playing on the Varsity team for basketball. When his cousin Chinkee visits him from China, he is in for a real treat. The book goes on to talk about identity and finding oneself. And, all the stories eventually come together in the end for a magnificent ending.
Themes: Racism is one. There is a lot of racism throughout the book. For example they talk about eating cat and fried noodles. That is like saying that black people only like fried chicken and kool-aid. It is very racist. But, Gene Luen Yang is trying to get a point across and make people notice that these type of things are occurring.
Identity. Each of these characters has an issue with themselves. The monkey king wants to be called The Great Sage, Equal of Heaven. He does not want to come to terms that he is actually just a monkey. Jin Wang he transforms his hair to how his classmate Timmy has his. Timmy is a very American looking boy- stereo-typed quite possibly. Timmy has blonde curly hair, pale skin, blue eyes. So, Jin Wang tries to Americanize himself in order to win his heart-throb, Amelia, over.
Love. I felt that when Chinkee visted Danny it was almost like having one of your parents come to your school. It was so funny and cute and even though we can get annoyed of our family and maybe embarrassed, you still accept them. Danny still accepted Chinkee even though he was embarrassed. And, in the end they had the fight- as most families do- which bought them closer in the end. Thus, they both showed their true identities.
Connections: The only connection I had with the book is with Chinkee and Danny. My junior year of high school my mom came to biology class with me. I was failing biology and did not know anything that was going on in the class. We were planting something that day and we needed lab partners- of course my mom was mine. I was frustrated because I could not figure out some answers and so my mom threw some soil at me to cheer me up. That started a big mess back and forth between my mom and I. I had a blast until my teacher came over and I got detention. I was then completely embarrassed. But, I still love my mom and she knew how to make me laugh and get over the hardships of school.
Reactions: I loved the book. It was funny. But, I know that Gene Luen Yang intended for it to be that way and for us to think to ourselves “why are we laughing”. Then when you figure out why you are laughing that is when you can figure out that it really is not something to be laughed about; That these issues are serious issues to be addressed. I think that if I would have had some prior knowledge of the history and everything I would of not thought the book was as funny as I made it out to be in my head. I would of taken the book more serious and probably grasped a little more out of it.
Reception: one This reception talks about what parent’s need to know. It was interesting because throughout it they kept asking why do you think this book one so many awards? And, also it says to talk to your kids about stereotyping. It touches on some key points that if you would of read this book and then checked out the website you would of thought more indebt about the book.
two In this reception it talks about many peoples’ reviews of the book itself. One person actually says there was not enough material for him. I would sort of agree and disagree on that. Because I think if you as a reader have a full grasp on the background material then there does not have to be further explanation. But, if you don’t then you miss all the points that Gene Luen Yang was trying to get at. I think that is where I came into play; I didn’t have enough background information to get the main points. I just laughed and thought the book was funny. But, as a teacher then that is what he or she should do in the classroom to make their students fully grasp what they are learning.