Thursday, December 29, 2016

Diverse Reads: Graphic Novels!

Hello it's Val again. WITH GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS! More like Val needed 10 books to complete her Goodreads Challenge, and after last years embarrassing 99 out of 100 books (in which she added a picture book she read). This year, I WILL make 100 books, even though they will all be short.

First, I would like to say that the books featured here are 1) awesome and 2) one of which are by my fave and 3) Asian authors!

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: September 5, 2006
Source: Library
Date Read: 12/15/16
240 pages

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...

This is actually a reread, I read this such a long time ago, when I was a BABY (more specifically I was in middle school). I will be completely honest, I don't think I understood what I read back then, but I get it now. Sometimes I wonder if anything would have changed during my childhood if I fully understood the meaning behind this book. Maybe I would have looked at my own culture differently, because man does this hit home now.

I realize that I never fully explained what this novel is actually about. In this case, the title is pretty self explanatory. American Born Chinese is simply (but not so simply) about a Chinese American student who finds himself not being able to fit in at his school. There are three stories woven throughout this novel that all come back together in the end. There is a bit of magical realism, along with a short retelling of the Monkey King (woo!), BUT THE MESSAGE IS GREAT.

Shoutout to my dad, who maybe doesn't remember this, but he remarked back when I first borrowed this that I wasn't American Born Chinese but rather Canadian Born Chinese. Pretty sure there's no difference but I could be wrong.

I was initially going to review Saints by Gene Luen Yang as well, but I realized that it was a companion novel for a book I haven't read yet. I hope to get my hands on Boxers but until then I will wait.

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Source: Library
Date Read: 12/16/16 to 12/16/16
320 pages

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.

Rashika recommended this one to me! And to be honest, I'm not exactly sure if this counts as a diverse book, but it is by two diverse authors (I may be wrong, it is hard to tell in graphic form)!

This was definitely interesting, in that the plot revolves around the two 15-year old girls, and their summer vacation together. Every year Rose and her family hang out at Awago Beach, where she meets up with her best friend Windy. Everything seems really simple, but the novel actually touches upon some very heavy topics. But it does it through the eyes of Rose, who doesn't fully understand what is going on or what kinds of consequences her actions may have. This is truly a coming-of-age story, and due to the graphic format and art of this book, it is easy to take Rose's perspective. But at the same time, you can tell that her thoughts and actions aren't always right.

I highly recommend this read as well. I'm just still impressed over how such little dialogue can have a profound effect on the story. The imagery really plays a role here, even if it is not as detailed as some other graphic novels out there.  
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