Book Review | American Panda by Gloria Chao

Book review

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2019 (first published: February 6th, 2018)
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Buy Links: Kinokuniya Malaysia | MPH Online
Source: Huge thanks to Pansing for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


At seventeen, 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 (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) 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.


“𝙊𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙄 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙧𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙤 𝙙𝙖𝙢𝙣 𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙚𝙡𝙨𝙚, 𝙄 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙚𝙣𝙟𝙤𝙮 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚. 𝘽𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙙, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙮 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙢𝙮𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚” - American Panda, Gloria Chao

The first time I laid my eyes on the synopsis of this book, I know I need to read American Panda. 

Let me briefly talk about what the book is all about. Mei is born to Taiwanese parents who lived in America. Mei lived practically has been preplanned by her parents from what course should she take to what the best career she needs to be and her future husband who is also a Taiwanese. Meaning that her future has been determined by her parents. If she disobeyed her parents, there will be huge problem for her.

The story that I can relate with myself (has Chinese blood in us) and American Panda is that, when I was a kid, my grandmother she is a very strict person. I remember she told me to study hard and when I grow up I should be a doctor, however, I do not become a doctor because I have no interest in that area so do my two sisters hence it is my cousin who becomes a doctor. The pressure was still there whenever I went back to my hometown as if I been judged by them. 

Just like how Mei felt stress with her mother who constantly compared this and that to her that is how I am when I was in school. It is not from my parents though the pressure but from my grandmother. I seriously hate it of being compared and all but I told myself to ignore those and be who I want to be. I am grateful to my parents. They did not put pressure on what I need to become. They want us to choose what we want to be and be happy with it and always have each other.

I like Mei's character. Despite being under pressure with her predetermined future, she able to go forward to do what she wants to do although at first, she has to do it without her parent's knowledge. She takes a step to be close to her brother again and in the end, she voice out what she has been holding for so long although she knew what is the consequence she has to hold but it was the right thing to do. Throughout her journey, there are many things we can see the progress with her family's relationship and her love relationship also with her studies.

Overall, it was really a story that I do can relate to myself. It was an amazing read. With the diversity and culture story, it was a realistic story that is poignant and very well-written by Gloria Chao.