Thursday, September 27, 2007
"American Born Chinese" - Gene Luen Yang
Yes, some people didn't grow up ashamed of something - their family, their family's religion, ethnicity, finances, reputation or simple uncoolness. I wonder how they end up building their personalities...must be that well-adjusted frame of mind we hear so much about...
Striving to be like everybody else is every one's childhood dirty little secret - and with adolescence this path usually takes us right down to arrogance and meanness, just like Yang's characters.
A graphic novel that like (or rather, more) than Tintim can be enjoyed by anyone from 7 to 77 years old, and arguably more important, since it portrays a moral lesson we are mostly keen to forget.
The ethics of "American Born Chinese" rang very close to my own, so it was no surprise to find Yang is a catholic. I'm of the lapsed type myself, but hey, dogma dies hard. Still, I believe anyone can enjoy this - we just feel more guilty.
Most of us regain our senses somewhere along the line and develop a sense of pride about our unique background, but Yang's book is remarkable in that it takes the reader so vividly back to those playground/high school days when we just wanted to be like the other blond, blue-eyed, thin and pretty kids.
The only thing that made me sad was realizing this story is happening to some kid right this instant...
Why can't we inject the little monkeys with some age-old wisdom?