Mei's all set to fulfill her parents' plan: she's a freshman at MIT on the path to becoming a doctor and marrying the perfect Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer. The only problem? She hates germs, is bored by biology class, and has a crush on her decidedly not Taiwanese classmate. When Mei reconnects with her estranged brother Xing, she must decide whether all the secrets are worth it. This smart, funny YA debut is for fans of Sarah Dessen or Jennifer Smith.
“American Panda is the cutest book I have read in a long time. Mei's parents want her to become a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer. When Mei goes off to college, she doesn't want her family to find out that she sleeps through biology and hates germs, or that she's met Darren, who is not Taiwanese. Readers follow Mei as she struggles between keeping secrets from her parents and going after what she loves. When she reconnects with her brother Xing, who was estranged for dating the wrong girl, Mei realizes that it might not be worth it to keep her secrets. American Panda is packed with culture, romance, and family.”
— Emily Matz, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI
“Weepingly funny.” —The Wall Street Journal “Delightful.” —Buzzfeed “Charmed my socks off.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland
Four starred reviews for this 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?
From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how, unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.
About the Author
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, and Rent a Boyfriend. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. She does not regret putting aside her MIT and dental degrees to write, and she is grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths. Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.Wordpress.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram @GloriaCChao.
Seventeen Magazine’s Best YA Novels of 2018 Bustle’s Best YA Book of 2018 PopSugar‘s Most Riveting YA Book of 2018 A Chicago Public Library Best YA Book of 2018 A Paste Magazine Best YA Book of 2018 Booklist’s Best Debut YA Book of 2018 A Junior Library Guild Selection YMCA’s Summer Reading List for Teens
“Weepingly funny.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Vibrant and bright.” —Bustle
“Beautifully told.” —Hypable
“A soulful and hilarious debut.” —Booklist, starred review
“This deserves a place on every shelf, though it will not stay there long.” —VOYA, starred review
“Eye-opening, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking.” —Shelf Awareness
“An earnest, funny, and emotional story.” —Book Riot
“American Panda is an absolute delight; an insightful, incisive, and often hilarious story of one girl's struggle to balance her family's expectations against her own secret ambitions. Overflowing with wit and empathy, Chao's debut charmed my socks off.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland
“A charming and hilarious tale of a precocious Taiwanese American walking the tightrope of family expectations...in ice skates. Mei Lu is a goofy, lovable American teenager. I loved her.” —Stacey Lee, award-winning author of Outrun the Moon
"Incredibly timely, honest, and moving—the must-read book of the season!" —Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi
“A dazzling debut that hooked me with its humor and heart from the very first page.” —Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician
“The perfect coming of age story for anyone who's ever felt unsure of where they belong. —Kerri Maniscalco, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Stalking Jack the Ripper