AMERICAN BORN CHINESE by Gene Luen Yang

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The monkey king masters the disciplines of kung-fu but cannot earn the respect of the gods because he wears no shoes.  Jin Wang moves from China to America and tries to adjust to the new culture while dealing with the prejudices–not all of them ill-intentioned–of his classmates.  Danny lives in a world similar to a sitcom where his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee constantly embarrasses him with his unusual behavior.

Yang weaves these three stories together to highlight the challenges of moving to a new culture and struggling to develop one’s identity as an individual.  The graphic novel earned him the Printz Award in 2007.  It may seem disjointed at first, but it comes together in the end.  It will probably appeal most to teenagers, especially high schoolers.

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