American Panda

Finished American Panda by Gloria Chao. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“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?”

This book is an absolute delight. It’s smart and funny but there’s also a lot of heart. It would be easy to view Mei’s family (especially her mom) as caricatures of ridiculous, backward people. Instead, we see them as Mei does: as people who are flawed, but who are also inherently decent and who want what’s best for Mei. They just think that they know what’s best for her better than she does.

Gloria Chao does an amazing job of showing exactly why Mei feels so trapped. It would be easy to walk away from horrible parents, but her parents aren’t completely horrible. There is so much good in them, and it helped me see exactly why she was trying so hard to please them.

I absolutely adore this novel and I cannot wait to see what Gloria Chao does next. I hope we find out soon. Highly recommended.

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