YA Recs: American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

american born chinese


Chinese American student Jin Wang struggles to fit in at school.  The Monkey King goes on a journey to become a human. Danny struggles with humiliation caused by his Chinese cousin. Yang brilliantly ties these three tales together in his graphic novel.

Why I loved it: 

Gene Yang is one of those authors where I want to read everything he writes. He always seems to achieve this perfect balance of humor and emotion. Seriously, though, the guy is hilarious and I very much appreciate humor.

Initially I couldn’t see how the three story lines would tie together. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but it’s so beautifully done. Yang is a real master of craft.

Most importantly, though, is how I related to the characters. The book focuses on a Chinese American boy accepting his identity. I think everyone has aspects of their identity they’d rather hide, and this is a book about embracing who you really are. Seeing the connection between myself and Jin also helped me build empathy through shared experience. A wonderful narrative about self acceptance.

This is the kind of book I could go back to over and over again.