This semi-autobiographical graphic novel ties in three story lines. The first features Jin Wang, a new student at a school where only he is the only Chinese-American student. The second storyline involves the Monkey King, a figure present in many ancient Chinese myths, as he is rejected from Heaven. Lastly, there is the fake TV show starring Chin-Kee, a Chinese character that inhabits every Chinese stereotype possible and then some. In the end these three stories weave together to tell a tale about confronting and addressing both external and internal racism.
I can see why this book won so many awards. It specifically address racism against Asian Americans and the fallacy of the “model minority.” The great thing about reading books, particularly those written by people outside of your own personal experience, is that you can get a glimpse into the lives of others, and develop understanding and empathy for them and their circumstances. Gene Yuen Lang’s artwork is fantastic. I love the crisp lines and bright colors, which combine to make the graphics pop off the page. If you like this book, you should check out some of Yang’s other books, like Boxers, Saints, or The Shadow Hero.
Review by Jessica A.