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    Friday, November 24, 2006

    American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
    ABC -- three stories, apparently unrelated, come together to present this look at Chinese culture and America. Jin Wang, the only Chinese student in his school, only wants to fit in, but making friends with the new student from Taiwan doesn't help; and then he falls for an American blonde. The monkey wants to be a god and vows revenge after being kicked out of a party of the kings and gods, so he begins training and masters the arts of kung-fu to reach a level of power surpassed only by the original god; but the king of the monkeys is prideful and rebellious and curses himself to 500 years trapped under a mountain. Danny is a popular student and plays basketball, but every years his cousin Chin-Kee comes to visit and causes him no end of embarrassment; and every year, Danny changes schools to avoid the reactions of his could-be friends.
    I almost got lost at the beginning of the book -- it starts with the fable of the monkey king, and I was waiting for the story of Jin Want -- or so I thought. But I persisted through the first couple of pages and soon began enjoying the tale. Well-written and illustrated (and in full colour!) ABC tells what it's like for one Chinese-born American who wishes he were more like someone else. A coming of age story, an enjoyable piece.

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