{ARC} Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao || My cheeks hurt from smiling so much

American Panda

Gloria Chao


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 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? 

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: February 6th 2018


ARC Disclaimer Netgalley (2)

Trigger Warning




Ableist Language, Death of a Family Member, Mention of Suicide

Don’t come into this book expecting just a cute contemporary. It’s a story on self-identity, being split between two cultures and finding your path in life. But it’s also a very cute, quick read that melted my heart so

We’re following Mei, pressured by her parents to become a doctor, go to MIT and marry a Chinese man. Except… she’s a germophobe. And she’s crushing on a her Japanese classmate, Darren

coffee divider 2

In the beginning, the story’s flow was a bit choppy for me. I got lost a few time and had to backtrack to see how I got there. However, this is a minor problem because everything started rolling smoothly as I read more. I ended up loving Mei’s voice and how she deflected her embarrassment with humor and I chuckled a bit— more so towards the end.

I felt frustrated for her when her parents shoved all these expectations on her and Chao gets you to understand them while getting irritated. This is their traditions that they’ve been following since birth; its hard to break out of that, but I still got angry— especially at the dad towards the end. We see Mei’s relationship with her brother, who has been disowned for quite sometime because his girlfriend’s struggles to procreate and I loved the support they have for each other.

coffee divider 2

Speaking of support, Mei has a lot of people supporting her. Nicolette, her roommate who at first I was wary of because of her attitude but grew on me and a multitude of passing characters that she runs into that make an impact on her. And Darren… I loved him. He had all the patience in the world. He was patient when Mei’s insecurities flared up and so understanding and he stood by her; they were so cute together.

Just in case I wasn’t obvious, I highly recommend you get this book on February 6th because it was short and cute and a great coming of age story.

7 thoughts on “{ARC} Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao || My cheeks hurt from smiling so much”

  1. Great review! This sounds really interesting, and I didn’t notice the main character had a phobia the first time I heard of this. That’s a thing I look for in books, so I’m definitely going to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s