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?

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My rating:


Hi, everyone! Another day, another review! I’m really excited to talk about today’s book, though, which is American Panda by Gloria Chao! I remember being excited for this book as soon as I saw the announcement on Twitter last year! It just sounded so good! Now, I’ll be honest; I tried to keep my expectations low so I’d enjoy it, as that worked the last time I read a book. But I just couldn’t! It’s okay this time around, though, because the reading experience was amazing! 🙂

First of all, I really liked Mei as the main character. I believe that her voice made this book what it is. I really got a chance to relate to her as well, with her whole “going-off-to-college” experience. You rarely have YA go in that path (what characters are usually thinking about is getting to college, but rarely is their experience fully viewed). In fact, the only YA books I can think of with a college setting are We are Still Tornadoes and I Hate Everyone But You. It was that experience of discovering what you want to pursue, going to lectures, tests and whatnot that I enjoyed reading about. That and seeing how she handles it while balancing expectations from her parents in upholding her end of the bargain by becoming a doctor. I totally got that since at one point in my life, I was influenced into becoming a doctor and selecting my courses and major because of it. I understood exactly what Mei was going through, which is probably another reason of why I ate this novel up!

I also like how this story had a nice balance of humour and seriousness to it. All throughout, you’d get these fleshed out characters who you want to see more of! With the progression of the novel, the characters developed alongside until it was over and I was sad to leave them behind. The only character I actually didn’t want to see fleshed out was Eugene, a potential suitor for Mei. Shocking, I know! I’m usually complaining about the fact that a character isn’t developed enough and here I am wanting this character to remain flat. It’s just that I didn’t think that Eugene’s presence benefited the story’s plot in any way. You could leave his minor appearance out and it would still be the same. It was the idea of Eugene and arranged marriages in general that actually mattered to the plot.

Well, those are my thoughts on American Panda by Gloria Chao. I really liked it and I would recommend this book to anyone looking in the Contemporary sphere! If you have any questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. And for those of you who are interested. American Panda comes out on February 6th, 2018!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.