American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese is a standalone graphic novel that tells three narratives: When Jin Wang’s family moves, he’s the only Chinese-American there, and he wants so desperately to fit in; the Monkey King wants nothing more than to be the most powerful being, and hide his monkey nature; Chin-Kee is how the Chinese are portrayed in the media, and even has a running “laugh track” along the bottom.
All three stories are about what it means to want to be someone or something that you’re not, what it means to identify with something that you’re not, and why it’s important to accept who you are. I may not be Chinese or from a different heritage, but I was still able to relate to the themes. Everyone wants to be someone else sometimes. But the small moments of stereotypical racism immigrants and children of immigrants face on a daily basis were so wonderfully added and important for everyone to read and understand so as to prevent this kind of thing in the future.
I love how the stories came together in the end. It’s a little messy, but it works.
American Born Chinese is a wonderful story. It’s funny, poignant, and its message is strong.