Color by Lark Pien
Published by :01/First Second, 2006
2010 has been my year to discover graphic novels. Although I’m reading many, I’m averaging one a month that I’ve become enthralled with. American Born Chinese was the one most like a comic book with it’s vivid colored drawings.
What I found unique about this story was it’s weaving together of a traditional Chinese folk tale with modern teenage experiences. The book is organized around three separate stories.
- The first story is a fairy tale about the Monkey King who rules Flower-Fruit Mountain.
- The second story is about Jin Wan, a young Chinese American boy who’s goal is to fit in with his Anglo neighbors and classmates. The other boys bully him constantly and he’s alone until another Chinese American boy moves into his area.
- The third story introduces Chin Kee who is somehow the Chinese cousin of Danny. He follows Danny everywhere with his loud and obnoxious comments.
As each story was introduced I was completely absorbed into the telling and showing of it. They were interwoven with each other. And then the ending pulled all three stories together into a creative solution.
This young adult novel covers issues that plague people who struggle with peer pressure, feelings of social exclusion and self-acceptance. This can include many adults as well as adolescents. These themes are not heavy-handed. They are handled with subtle humor.
As you can tell, I’m a fan of this book. That surprised me. But, life would be dull without nice surprises. This one is a multi-award winning book. That alone should have made me grab it.
I checked my copy out from the public library. Even though our branch is small it has a growing section of graphic novels. I’m going back for more.
American Born Chineseis also available from Amazon.