I picked up Gene Luen Yang's "American Born Chinese" yesterday at Secret Headquarters, LA's best comic shop, and read it all before bed last night. American Born Chinese is a wonderful, funny, heart-breaking and inspiring graphic novel that tells the story of Jin Wang, a Chinese boy who is one of two Asian kids in his class at an American school. The story is told through three interleaving narratives — the story of Jin's school life, and two others: one is a recounting of a Chinese legend about The Monkey King, who wants to be something he is not, and the other is a notional sitcom about an American kid named Danny whose racist stereotyped Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, is ruining his social life.
These three stories interact in truly unexpected ways, creating a wonderful effect by the story's end. This isn't just a story about kids coping with racism and young love. This is really a story about identity, and coming to grips with who you are. According to the cover, the book has already won a couple of prestigious awards for kid's lit, and they're well-deserved. There's a lot of subtlety and smarts in this story.