American Born Chinese to me for years. Somehow it never seems to be around when I am able to read it. When I finally got it out of the library, I saved it as a "treat" for after the emotional wringing of Tender Morsels. Perhaps it is all the anticipation that <quiet voice> made me not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.
I wanted to love this book! I believe in the powers of the graphic novel and am desperate for more diversity in my bookshelves. Unfortunately, I was hoping for an Asian American The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (read it, read it, read it) but that is a lot to ask.
Gene Luen Yang's book tells three different narratives: the story of the mythical Monkey King, of Jin Wang, the son of Chinese immigrants that struggles to fit in, and of a sitcom-like teen whose visiting Chinese cousin exemplifies every stereotype of an Asian. Each of the stories has a different tone, but they work together nicely because of the beautiful illustrations and the intersection of all the narratives at the climax.
Despite not shattering my YA mind, it is a good book. I think there are many ways that it could be used creatively in a classroom. I've been searching for a scan of page 96 but haven't come across one. On this page, three teens of Asian descent are having fun and laughing in a park until two boys walk by and say a few racial slurs. The three teens sit quietly, their cheeks burning. These few panels would add so much to a discussion on tolerance, bullying, and ignorance. I love the book for that page.
This review is a bit wishy washy. I say that I was disappointed, but also that it is a good book. Would I add it to my classroom library? Yes. Am I still waiting for the book about the Asian-American experience that will blow me away? Heck yes.