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Publisher's Summary

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At 17, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth - that she (one) hates germs, (two) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (three) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn't always so black and white.

©2018 Gloria Chao (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Charmed my socks off." (David Arnold, New York Times best-selling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland)
"A soulful and hilarious debut." ( Booklist, starred review)
"Effervescent." ( Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"An earnest, funny, and emotional story." ( Book Riot)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A butterfly

A woman overcoming cultural brainwashing and trusting herself. It made me laugh and smile and get angry in a few places.

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Enjoyed it!

This was a quick, easy enjoyable book!
Mei was a great character and would to see a sequel!

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WOW! What an enjoyable read.. listen.

I am so glad that my impulse buy worked out. I think that I didn’t even stop listening until the end of the book. Well done!

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  • r
  • 02-23-18

Delightful!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

After finishing American Panda, I promptly recommended it to everyone I know. The characters are heartfelt, the writing style charming, and the conflicts felt real and relatable.

Which character – as performed by Emily Woo Zeller – was your favorite?

Emily Woo Zeller brought all of the characters to life. I especially liked the way she performed Mei and Mei’s mother.

Any additional comments?

Excited to read more by debut author Gloria Chao!

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tense and sweet intercultural tale

Mr. and Mrs. Lu have Mei's life planned out for her --her major, her profession, her husband, her study schedule. Mei is at MIT because her parents want her to be, but she has other dreams. Yet her parents themselves are so very bound by the old traditions, that they have forgotten their own childhood longings. Mei struggles to find the inner courage to seek her own way, all the while realizing how bound she still is to her parents' traditions.

The story ends satisfactorily with both sweetness and strength. The story will resonate with the children of tiger moms as well as everyone who feels they must please someone else. Chinese words are sprinkled throughout, but the context makes them understandable, and Emily Woo Zeller's narration is perfect.

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Loved it!

I enjoyed reading this book as it brought back memories of my youth being 1st generation American. The author captured the balance of carrying parents’s expectations and the longing to find one’s own passions.