'American Panda' Book Review: Heavy are the shoulders of a child of an immigrant

***This review may contain spoilers***

Make us proud. You can do anything you put your mind to. You can be anything that you want in this world. As long as it goes with what your parents have planned for you. That is what some if not most parents want for their child.

It is seen time and time again that immigrant parents are hard on their kids. Wanting them to be a doctor or a lawyer. Something stable so they don’t have to work as hard as their parents. That is seen in all parents to some degree. Heavier in immigrant parents. It is seen in Gloria Chao’s novel ‘American Panda’. Mei is the only recognized child in a family that immigrated from Taiwan. With her parents’ culture and traditions comes the pressure of being the perfect daughter.

The pressure on her builds when her parents disown their only son for not marring the right person. Her main goal was never to disappoint her parents. But how can she not when she doesn't want to be a doctor, because she is such a germaphobe. She wants to date a Japanese boy, someone who her parents didn't pick for her and who would not agree with at all. She wants to be a dancer. She wants to talk to her brother, when according to her family, he doesn’t exist anymore.

At first she hides everything as one does to spare someone's feelings. She hides herself from her parents until she just cant anymore. That's when she realizes she is not the problem but the way her parents see things.

Mei learns that the traditions can be flawed and that to change them she must first change the way her parents see her. Sometimes the culture is not to blame for the way a child is treated in a community but the people who enforce it. It is up to the people to change it for the better.

The reader has a view on how parents from Taiwan are and how that pressure can affect the children and how the parents have a black and white view on their children. The thing about this book that I loved was the inclusion of words that we have. No glossary was provided to the reader either had to get the words through context clues or not was up to the reader and no responsibility of the author at all. Like Mei, the reader must find a way to define the words that might confuse them.

If You Liked This Book

A darker comparison to this book: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (review)

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