Title: American Panda
Author: Gloria Chao
Read by: Emily Moo Zeller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 7 hours and 33 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster. Thank-you!
Mei is a seventeen-year-old Taiwanese American student starting at MIT. Mei’s life has been mapped out for her by her overprotective traditional parents. Her parents want her to be a doctor, but Mei is not so sure as she hates germs, Biology, and gets squeamish at the sight of blood. She doesn’t want to disappoint them, but she dreams of working in her real passion, which is dance. She also is afraid of getting kicked out of her family, as her brother Xing did for dating an “unsuitable” women. Mei misses Xing and wonders – what will happen to her if she follows her dreams? Especially when her dreams include fellow student, Darren Hakahasi who is Japanese American.
This still makes me laugh, but I thought it was a memoir until about halfway through the audiobook. I guess you can say this really felt like realistic fiction to me! I really enjoyed the story. It’s a young adult story about finding yourself. Mei really wants to be a good daughter to her parents, but can she do it without losing her own soul? I also really liked how her parents want her to keep her Taiwanese traditions, but she is American and has a problem trying to be both American and Taiwanese. Family is complicated.
The title, American Panda, is a sad fat joke. Mei thinks she is an American panda as she is not a skinny Chinese girl. It was a cute joke in the book, but also sad.
Emily Moo Zeller was an excellent narrator. I felt that she was Mei in the novel.
“I couldn't go through life as a shadow.”
Overall, American Panda is a very enjoyable coming of age novel.