American Panda by Gloria ChaoAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda

byGloria Chao

Hardcover | February 6, 2018

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“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.
Title:American PandaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:February 6, 2018Publisher:Simon PulseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481499106

ISBN - 13:9781481499101


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! 4.5 stars I really, really, enjoyed this book! Moreso than I originally even thought I would. Without throwing total shade, this is the kind of story that I wanted when I read, “When Dimple Met Rishi”. However, with that novel, I was sadly disappointed. As much as the novel was diverse, I did not like some of the characteristics or actions made from the main character Dimple. When I heard about “American Panda”, I thought I may have a similar experience to “When Dimple Met Rishi” because the storylines did share some similarities. Plus, I have to say the covers do look quite similar too. This was not the case! I loved everything about “American Panda”, from the intense humour at the beginning to the incredibly emotional moments regarding family and self-discovery throughout. It was such a well rounded novel on all fronts. I cannot personally speak to the story’s cultural authenticity but from conversations that I have had with friends, these issues and topics have been an authentic representation for some of them. After reading this debut, I’m eagerly awaiting for what is to come next by Gloria Chao. Along with her creativity in writing such an incredible story, her writing was truly delectable and I sped through it with ease and enjoyment. I’m highly anticipating her next novel which is slated to be released later this year. ***Thank you to Goodreads as well as the author and publisher for supplying me with this novel via a giveaway***
Date published: 2019-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Sweet Such a wonderful story, the romance was sweet but not very deep, but then, this wasn't really a story about the romance. The story about the family's growth and change was excellent. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cute!! Overall this book was a quick and cute read that offered an insider's perspective on a culture I knew little about.
Date published: 2018-06-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Relatable I feel like I read a different book because I didn't think this book was funny. I thought it was depressing because it just reminded me how emotionally abusive families can be. And I'm saying this as an Asian person who could either relate to Mei, or at have witnessed some of the things that went on in the book. Gloria Chao did a great job exploring all of the complexities of the characters so that the parents are perceived as three-dimensional characters, rather than some Asian stereotype.
Date published: 2018-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Delightful An adorable, sweet, diverse read with a Taiwanese-American protagonist. Mei's parents have expectations for her life that they've essentially planned for her. They expect her to become a doctor, marry a Taiwanese boy, have babies. It's kind of difficult since she hates germs, falls asleep in biology lectures, and has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is definitely not Taiwanese. Mei is funny and relatable. Young Asian girls will be glad to be able to read about a girl that they can relate to since the author does a good job at depicting what it's like to grow up in a Taiwanese household. The plot is quite ordinary but it's written in a fun way that keeps you wanting more.
Date published: 2018-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Must Read American Panda is about a young girl named Mei, who is struggling to find herself. She wants to please her family but at what cost? I found this book to be incredibly touching. Mei is a person that I would love to have in my life. She is sweet and awkward and passionate, witty, intelligent and so insightful. The author did a wonderful job in scripting her interactions with all the other characters. She was able to make you love and hate Mei's family all at the same time. I would definitely recommend this novel.
Date published: 2018-03-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was a cute, funny read I was really looking forward to this book, and it was a cute, funny read. It was also a tense story at times, with Mei’s desire to live her own life conflicting with what her parents want for her. Her parents want her to graduate from MIT and become a doctor, but Mei is a germaphobe and would rather dance and study math than biology. There were some heartbreaking moments as Mei’s dreams collided with her parents’ expectations and she had to weigh whether to follow her heart and risk being disowned by her parents – as her older brother Xing had – or follow the path her parents had planned for her and forego what she wanted for herself. The romance was cute, and I thought the scenes between Mei and her brother were great, but story’s pacing felt off to me at times (sometimes events were mentioned in passing after they had already happened, which was a little jarring and made me wish I had been able to read about those things taking place). But my heart went out to Mei right away, reading about her straddling two cultures at a time in life when many of us are trying to figure out who we are and what we want, and the pressure she was under was so palpable. I didn’t know how this book would end but I was hoping for a happy ending for Mei. Recommended! (Received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
Date published: 2018-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mei is a Taiwanese-American trying to make her mom happy! American Panda is a standalone Young Adult contemporary novel. The narrator is 17 year old Mei (she is Taiwanese-American). She is a freshman at MIT, where her extremely strict parents have her studying to become a doctor. I think that this book is very relevant. It shows what it is like for kids whose parents are immigrants to grow up in the US. It also gives the reader some insight into how strict parents who came from Taiwan might act. The book begins with Mei starting university at MIT (she skipped a grade, which is why she is in university and not high school). She is quite shy and quiet. She absolutely loves dancing. Her parents live fairly close by. So there are a lot of scenes with her parents in this book. IMO, there is a bit too much with her parents, especially in the first part of the book. This book is very funny. However, there is a fine line between funny and real vs too much and annoying. I think that the second half of the book had a much better balance. I found parts of the beginning to be too much. Most chapters end with voice mails from Mei's mom. And those were very funny. But for the most part I found Mei's parents to be more than I could handle. They were so overbearing. I just wish that some of the beginning parts with them had been cut. This book is about a girl's self-discovery. She is trying to figure out to have the life that she wants while still making her parents happy. If you want to know who Mei's mom reminded me of (think of Lane's mom Mrs. Kim on The Gilmore Girls - even though she was Korean). There is romance in this book. And I really enjoyed that part of the story. I also really liked everything to do with Mei's brother and all of the scenes with her roommate. Overall, this was a good Young Adult contemporary story. Mei's family may be too much for some people to handle. But I thought that the book was interesting, different, and very funny. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me to read this book.
Date published: 2018-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book Set in University I received an advance copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. If I'm being totally honest, I requested this book when Simon & Schuster's newsletter came around because I had heard a lot about, not because I was particularly interested in it. Contemporary is not generally my thing, and while the synopsis sounded cute, I wasn't sure it was really my thing.  But holy macaroni, I'm so glad that I requested it, because it was such a good book. There are so many fantastic things happening throughout the book, and it's amazing to finally read a book where the protagonist is in university rather than high school, even if that protagonist had skipped a year to get there ahead of time. It's a book that YA literature has definitely needed, as far as my opinion is concerned. The Good Points of American Panda: I can't talk about how the portrayal of Mei's culture was done, because I honestly didn't know much about it until reading this book. But as someone who knew little about the culture, it was presented in such a way that it made perfect sense, was so interesting, and gave just enough that it made me have to go onto Wikipedia and find out even more.  I adored Mei. She's so well developed that by the end of the book, she feels like your best friend. She's got her good qualities and bad qualities, but they all balance out in the end, and you find yourself rooting for her all the way to the final page. I loved the portrayal of university in this book. First, because it's not something that you see a lot of in YA to begin with, and second, because it felt very real, at least compared to my own first year of university. I would have loved having this book when I was in my first year. This book tackles so many things, from traditions of Mei's culture, family issues, falling in love, university, health, careers, individualism, collectivism, and everything in between. Which should have felt like a lot in a 300-page book. But it somehow worked. I honestly don't know how Chao did it, but she did it wonderfully.  The Downsides of American Panda: Because there was so much packed into this book, I felt as though I could have connected more if I'd spent some more time with each issue. It's a great book, but even the hardest moments aren't really the punch of the heart that they could be. On that same note, the whole book did feel a little rushed. There were quite a few moments where I had to stop and remember what had happened, because we'd been through 8000 other things since the last time we'd seen that particular character/situation/etc. Some of the moments in this book felt too convenient. For example, Mei meets a doctor early on that helps her realize her personal opinions on being a doctor. Which seemed a little too easy for my tastes. There are a couple of other situations like this throughout the book as well, and I kind of wanted it to not feel so set up. All in all, I enjoyed this book so much and am so excited for it to be out in the world. It's fantastic to glimpse into a different culture than my own in such an accessable and enjoyable way, and it's amazing to see a book set in university in the YA genre. If you like realistic protagonists, glimpsing into different cultures, and books that have great family dynamics, you should definitely check out American Panda!
Date published: 2018-01-30

Read from the Book

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, “mei” means “beautiful” in Chinese. Live up to the name I chose for you.

Oh, and it’s your muqin.

Editorial Reviews

Seventeen Magazine’s Best YA Novels of 2018 Bustle’s Best YA Book of 2018 PopSugar‘s Most Riveting YA Book of 2018 A Chicago Public Library Best YA Book of 2018 A Paste Magazine Best YA Book of 2018 Booklist’s Best Debut YA Book of 2018 A Junior Library Guild Selection YMCA’s Summer Reading List for Teens “Weepingly funny.” —The Wall Street Journal “Delightful.” —Buzzfeed “Vibrant and bright.” —Bustle “Beautifully told.” —Hypable “A soulful and hilarious debut.” —Booklist, starred review “Effervescent.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “Universal.” —School Library Journal, starred review “This deserves a place on every shelf, though it will not stay there long.” —VOYA, starred review “Eye-opening, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking.” —Shelf Awareness “An earnest, funny, and emotional story.” —Book Riot “American Panda is an absolute delight; an insightful, incisive, and often hilarious story of one girl's struggle to balance her family's expectations against her own secret ambitions. Overflowing with wit and empathy, Chao's debut charmed my socks off.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland “A charming and hilarious tale of a precocious Taiwanese American walking the tightrope of family ice skates. Mei Lu is a goofy, lovable American teenager. I loved her.” —Stacey Lee, award-winning author of Outrun the Moon "Incredibly timely, honest, and moving—the must-read book of the season!" —Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi  “A dazzling debut that hooked me with its humor and heart from the very first page.” —Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician “The perfect coming of age story for anyone who's ever felt unsure of where they belong. —Kerri Maniscalco, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Stalking Jack the Ripper