American Panda
American Panda

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Annotation: A freshman at MIT, Mei tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents' expectations, but she can't hide several truths: she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor; she prefers dancing to biology; and she is dating a Japanese boy.
Catalog Number: #159971
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 310 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-481-49910-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1040-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-481-49910-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1040-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017014314
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Despite her fear of germs and her indifference to biology, seventeen-year-old MIT freshman Mei Lu is on the path to becoming a doctor, per her strict Taiwanese parents' wishes. But her first few months away inspire big changes: unbeknownst to her parents, Mei reconnects with her disowned older brother and indulges in her passion for dance. An endearing and at times laugh-out-loud coming-of-age story.
Kirkus Reviews
A Taiwanese-American girl finally starts to experience life beyond her overbearing parents.Mei, a 17-year-old freshman at MIT, has followed her parents' plans so far. Now all she has to do is get into a good medical school, become a doctor, and marry a nice Taiwanese boy. But with some distance from her parents (living in the Boston suburbs, they still demand to see her at weekly check-ins), Mei starts to buckle under the weight of their expectations and the truths she discovers about herself: she's a germophobe who can't stomach the thought of medical school. She really, really likes Darren, a Japanese-American classmate. Unfortunately, a thinly drawn cast of characters (an old friend appears in just one chapter to make a point) and heavy-handed first-person reflections ("She didn't know anything about them, my situation, how hard it was to straddle two cultures") sometimes read more as a book about cultural stereotypes and self-discovery than a compelling, fully fleshed novel. Awkwardly specific and quickly dated cultural references such as a Facebook check-in and an explanation of the term "hack" jar readers from the narrative. Nonetheless, Chao's inclusions of an Asian male romantic interest, a slightly nontraditional Asian female lead (size 8 with a big nose and "man-laugh"), and casual Mandarin dialogue are welcome and will appeal to uninitiated readers.A worthy story that stumbles. (author's note) (Fiction. 12-17)
Publishers Weekly
Mei is only 17 and already a freshman at MIT, but her Taiwanese immigrant parents won-t be satisfied until she has a medical degree, a Taiwanese doctor husband, and children. To ensure the success of this plan, Mei-s mother monitors Mei-s behavior, calling constantly, nagging her to be more feminine, and engineering meet-ups with approved boys. But there-s so much her parents don-t know: the boy Mei likes is Japanese American, she-s too germophobic to be a doctor, and she-d rather be dancing. Worse, she-s in touch with the brother her parents disowned when he failed to meet family standards. Chao-s effervescent debut explores topics and themes that are salient for all teens-finding oneself and establishing an identity separate from one-s family-and perhaps even more so for children of immigrants, who have a foot in two cultures and an ever-present awareness of the sacrifices their parents have made. With sensitivity and an abundance of humor, Chao captures Mei-s growing realization that her desires are worth pursuing and the way that this discovery eventually brings Mei and her mother closer together. Ages 12-up. Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. (Feb.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* For Mei, age 17 doesn't involve prom dates. Instead, she's a hopeful medical student at MIT, exactly as her parents planned. Mei strains against the expectations of her traditional Chinese parents, especially after they disowned her brother for choosing love over familial duty. At first, dance is the secret indulgence she must hide from them, but soon it graduates to a cute Japanese (read: unsuitable) boy and even worse ntact with her ostracized brother. She comes to understand her culture to be both a source of pride and a prison sentence, and she must find the strength to empathize with her parents, who are just as trapped by expectations. Vibrant, complex, and refreshing, this book crafts a nuanced view of growing up in a family beholden to centuries of tradition. Chao is meticulous in showing the wrinkles of a Chinese upbringing, especially in the face of an individualistic American society. Chao's also wickedly funny; she's not afraid of placing Mei in embarrassing situations to show readers what she's made of. Moreover, Chao devotes a generous amount of effort to fleshing out Mei's mother, transforming her from antagonist to someone with whom Mei learns to identify. A soulful and hilarious debut.
Word Count: 70,006
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 195159 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.7 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q72791
Lexile: 780L
Guided Reading Level: R
American Panda
Voicemail from my mother

Remember Amberly Ahn? She had eyelid surgery and it turned out great. We should think about doing that for you. Maybe we can tattoo your makeup on at the same time. Remember, there are no ugly women, only lazy women. Repeat that three times every morning.

And don't forget, "měi" means "beautiful" in Chinese. Live up to the name I chose for you.

Oh, and it's your mǔqīn.

Excerpted from American Panda by Gloria Chao
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

“Weepingly funny.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Delightful.” —Buzzfeed
“Charmed my socks off.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland

Four starred reviews for this incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

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.

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