American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang
2006
Printz Award and a million others!

This is a must read, folks.

“No way, Betsy, I don’t do graphic novels. Those are for kids! Or comic book geeks!”

Really, this is a must read.

American Born Chinese follows three seemingly unconnected storylines: one about a monkey king, one about a Chinese American boy named Jin and his friend Wei-Chen, and one about an American boy named Danny and his Chinese cousin named Chin-Kee. The stories come together in the end brilliantly.

What will you find in this quick read? Nicely balanced art with text. Racism treated humorously yet with candor and poignancy. Early high school angst at fitting in. Friendship and betrayal. The theme of being who you are created to be. Allusions to the Christ Child, visually, and near verbatim quoting of such Scripture passages as Psalm 139.

This is not a “Christian” book. Yet, Yang makes his point subtly and forcefully: we were created (by someone) for a purpose, and when we try to transform ourselves into something we’re not, we “sell our souls” as the old Chinese lady tells a young Jin. The point is well made without being preachy. Along the way, you will laugh out loud as Yang pokes fun at our stereotypes of Chinese Americans–while revealing how ruthless kids can be.

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