Monday, October 3, 2011

American Born Chinese

Typical bookstore cover

Chinese version cover

Yang, G.L. (2006). American Born Chinese. NY: First Second.
LS5385: YA Lit/Graphic Novel

First, whatcha think about the covers? After reading American Born Chinese and its three seemingly separate storylines (which weave together at the end), the Chinese cover seems more fitting; it's all over the place, much like it seems the story is until the resolution.

I had not really read a graphic novel before.  The Savage was an illustrated novel, and I enjoyed it, but I wasn't sure about the glorified comic book. (which I now understand graphic novels really aren't.)

I did enjoy reading the book and looking at the illustrations, which were amusing and definitely added to the story.  Given that so much about the story relates to appearances and trying to be someone other than who you are, the author would have had to write a lot more prose in order to get the point across. With the graphic novel, the illustrations show the readers what they need to know and can keep the dialog to a minimum.

Chin-Kee is a painfully stereotypical (quite intentionally so) "Chinaman" and I felt a little guilty laughing at his antics because they were so awful - but I think that was part of the author's intent. 

This has several powerful lessons that anyone can pick-up on and learn.  It also makes you keep thinking long after you're done reading.

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