~ Spoiler Free Graphic Novel Review: American Born Chinese Written and Illustrated by: Gene Luen Yang ~
Jin Wang is the only Chinese-American student at his school. Later on, a boy from Taiwan joins his class, but Jin doesn’t want to be associated with a FOB. He just wants to be an all-American boy like Danny. Now if only Chin-Kee, his obnoxious cousin visiting from China, would stop ruining his reputation. Meanwhile, the story of The Monkey King is being told in the background.
I have seen the name, Gene Luen Yang, floating around on my Facebook news feed and have been wanting to read this book of his. When I went back to my parents’ house, I saw it in my brother’s room and got so excited. He supposedly bought it for an Asian American studies class he recently took. I grabbed it off his shelf and have added it to mine.
As a Chinese-American myself, this comic book resonated with me so much, and I want to thank its existence. There were so many little things that moved me more than it should have because of how much I felt like I could personally relate to it. With that said, I don’t think this comic book is only for Chinese or Asian-Americans. It deals with very universal themes such as self-identity and self-acceptance. I enjoyed all the different characters and how they mingled with one another throughout the different scenes. Additionally, I loved how the story of The Monkey King tied into Jin Wang’s life and how their journeys for self overlapped. Though this comic book is quite short and easy to read, there is a lot of under the surface message and meaning which is why I think it needs to be re-read and thought of more analytically during my second read. I definitely recommend this comic book with all my heart especially for readers trying to diversify their reading list.
By the way, I love how the book ends with this last picture. It’s reminds me of the days when I first started seeing Asian-Americans on Youtube. I found it online to share with you all!
SIDE NOTE: I am terribly upset with Netflix and their decision to create a ‘westernized’ version of “Journey to the West” aka “The Monkey King”. It makes me so mad.