Honestly, this book was SO much more than I expected! I had heard about it through the librarian grapevine and read reviews, but for some reason kept it at the back of my TBR saying "I'll read it eventually." Y'all. This book needs a new cover because the one it has makes it feel immature and honestly middle-grade-esque but AMERICAN PANDA is GREAT! As a hispanic-American woman, I related to the main character, Mei, with the pressure to make your family proud, to be obedient, and to find a husband and have babies to secure your family name. BUT we know how I love a good ol' rebellion, ;) but AMERICAN PANDA isn't about the rebellion. It is about a Taiwanese-American girl, Mei, who LOVES dance, but her family has decided that is attending MIT to become a doctor while her mother chooses a husband for her. And while Mae tries SO hard to obey her family, she finally learns what I have been preaching for the past few years: you can't put a price a YOUR happiness and you have to do what is right for YOU.
AMERICAN PANDA is about so much more than just a girl struggling with her identity and with her parents; it is about finding yourself and challenging traditions that are done just for traditions sake. It is about women standing up for themselves. It is about spouses having a say in the way that their children are raised, and those children being happy and being given the opportunity to choose and fight for their dreams and being allowed to fail.
This book was everything. I loved every second of it. Thank you, Gloria Chao. I hope that not only other Asian Americans can relate to this book and find comfort in knowing that they are not alone, but also EVERYONE who wants to break away from family traditions and gender ideologies.