Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: American Panda

American Panda 
By Gloria Chao
Published: February 6, 2018

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?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn't always so black and white.

My review:

Mei is under a lot of pressure to live up to her parents' expectations, especially after her brother disappoints them to the point that he is disowned. She is smart but she is struggling in her science classes and she doesn't know how she is going to manage to become a doctor when she can't stand germs. Mei's college experience isn't off to the greatest start. Her roommate seems to hate her too. Her only escape is dancing, something she is really good at and loves to do but she has to keep it a secret because her parents would be disappointed. Then she meets Darren Takahashi and things start to look up but she knows that her parents wouldn't approve of him since he is Japanese.

I felt really bad for Mei Her parents are super strict and she wants to please them but it means not being true to herself. She pretty much lives a double life and it is very stressful on her. Her classmates and friends don't get the risks she is taking or understand just how much Mei could lose if her family found out. I couldn't stand Mei's parents. Their behavior was so unloving and unsupportive for much of the book. I was glad that Mei had her brother and some friends who were there for her at least. It was nice to see Mei start to follow her own path and grow as the story went along. The romance with Darren was sweet as well.

While most teens hopefully have parents that are loving and supportive, I think they'd still be able to relate to the challenges that come with college (or growing up in general) and that process of living a separate life from your parents especially if your dreams and goals don't align with theirs. 

Overall, I liked this book and it reminded me a little of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Of course in that book the parents are not mean, just a little overbearing. It is great to see more diverse contemporary YA fiction too. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes, courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss.

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading this one. I'm also glad that the contemporary romance genre is also getting diverse voices and that the romance in this doesn't overwhelm the whole plot of the book.


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