Review for American Panda

Review for American Panda

“I couldn’t go through life as a shadow.”

I was so so looking forward to this book, though it took me a while to actually read it. I have had a few too many books this year that I wanted to read but which turned out to be duds. Terrible, terrible duds. But I just couldn’t wait any longer, I would just handle it if it turned out to be a dud. But OH MY, this one wasn’t a dud at all. I loved every page of it. I loved Mei, I loved seeing her grow, I loved MIT, I loved the romance, the culture was fun, it was realistic, it had comedy, it had drama. It was just in one word Fantastic!

From the start we could see how overbearing the parents are, we see how Mei is trying to act like the good daughter, the author sure set the tone from the start right. I was eager to see if Mei would change. Would she be able to stand up to her parents, or would her parents finally see the light?

I loved Mei immediately. Sure, at times I wanted to shake her and tell her that she is her own person, that she is quite brainwashed, that she should make her own choices. That maybe, now that she is 17, she should just tell her parents what is really going on. Because while they want her to be a doctor, we all can clearly see that this isn’t going to work out. The smallest bit of blood and this girl is feeling sick, germs and she tries to wipe everything clean. At times I just couldn’t help but laugh. I know, maybe not the right moment, but I just couldn’t help it. It was quite fun how at the smallest of things she would jump away and try to cover herself in antibacterial stuff.
I loved how she lost herself in dancing, how she even had a few classes that she taught, and how she was able to relax and go to her happy place. I know the feeling, I am not a pro-dancer, oh no, but at the end of a crappy day there is just nothing better than to let it all out by moving to the beat. I adored that her dream was to become a dance teacher and have a school of her own. Wow, that is just such a beautiful dream, and I was rooting for her to step up and let people know about her dream. That she shouldn’t be afraid to live her life.
As the book continues, we see Mei slowly realise that maybe it is time for her to grab the reigns, we see her try to reconnect with her brother (in secret as her brother has been disowned by the family due to his girlfriend (we later find out why exactly)), we see her fall steadily in love (and I was rooting oh so much for these two), we see her try to talk to her parents. But as you may imagine her parents aren’t the easiest.

At one point shit hits the fan, and stuff get really bad for Mei. It is a good thing she has someone who loves her (even if she pushes him away at one point, but I could understand why), she has her brother who cares about her and tries to help her out, she has her roommate (well, once she opens up to her and finds out she isn’t such a bad person). But it is still very hard. She is still only 17, so she has to find a way to get funds and also to be able to make her own decisions without the need of her parents. Plus she has to deal with school and make the decision of her life, not go the route of a doctor, but instead something totally different, she wants to pursue her dream.
Plus she also goes to meet another girl who was disowned by her parents and has a lot of rumours surrounding her. I just loved that show the girl gave, it was just the best.

I was really angry at Mei’s family, especially the parents (though I have to say her aunt/grandma were at times even worse). I just couldn’t understand why these parents had to push such a lifepath to their kid. Not caring one wink about what she actually wants. Not even wanting to talk about it. Instead opting for arguing and shutting her down as if Mei is a kid and not the almost adult that she actually is. I get this is a culture thing, but really, you can’t just force your kid like this. Later on my dislike for the parents shifted a bit more towards the dad, especially after seeing the mom trying her best to at least do something for Mei. Sure, she had a long way to go, but I was already happy that she was more and more accepting of Mei and who she was turning out to be. Not who she wanted to be, but who Mei wanted to be. I also loved the meeting between the mom and Mei’s boyfriend. 😛
But yeah, the mom was quite frustrating in the beginning. I mean really, every new chapter has a message/voicemail from her, quite literally stalking her kid as she knew the schedule and demanded to be called. And if Mei didn’t do that? There was one scene in which the mom came to the university herself along with the police. Yup. Ain’t that brilliant? I was just so rolling my eyes at this action of the mom. Please woman, you should give your girl some privacy and time for herself.
Mom also wanted to know everything about who Mei was meeting. Study groups? Tell me all their names, ages, backgrounds, etc.. Not to mention that she kept remarking about Mei’s weight. 😐

Nicolette sure turned to be a nice surprise. I wasn’t sure what to make of her in the beginning, but I grew to quite like her. In the end she turned out to be one of my favs. She is a good case of don’t judge by outwardly appearances.

We also meet Mei’s other friend, Helen, and I was quite sad we didn’t see more of her. She seems like quite the character.

I adored Darren. From the start he was just the sweetest, and I loved how he tried to help out Mei. How he tried to show her that it wasn’t right for the parents to do what they did. They had some arguments, but he wasn’t afraid to tell his opinion, or how the situation is at his home.
Plus I loved their connection. They had that bond from the start. So I was rooting throughout the book for these two to get together and kiss!

Plus, now that I read the book, I just love the cover even further. It is exactly how I would imagine Mei would look, blissfully drinking hot chocolate (her drink of choice).

Mm, I could probably tell more about my feelings on this (I dare to bet I could talk for hours), but I will just sign off, and let my review be this. I would highly recommend this book. You won’t be bored one moment while reading this one. You will be rooting for the characters, squee at the romance, shake your head at the parents, and all in all enjoy this book.

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