Length: 320 pages
An 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?
Huge thanks to Gloria for being on my blog today!
1. What’s your elevator pitch for AMERICAN PANDA?
AMERICAN PANDA follows a seventeen-year-old MIT freshman whose traditional Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor and marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.
2. What’s one thing that you wish you had known about publishing?
I wish I had learned about the YA community earlier in my path. I wrote in a bubble for a few years before joining Twitter and attending local conferences to meet other writers. There are so many supportive writers out there—find your people!
3. What are you hoping readers will get out of AMERICAN PANDA?
I hope readers will see that they are not alone, it’s okay to not feel wholly one thing or another, and that they deserve to be loved no matter who they are. I hope this book can reach the other Meis of the world who are a little lost and not quite sure who they are.
4. What advice do you have for someone who wants to become an author themselves?
Read as many books as you can get your hands on (and the library is a wonderful resource). Join the community early, find beta readers and critique partners to help guide you, but always trust your gut. Tell the story only you can tell, and play up what makes you unique. Mei embodies all of my weird and more, and I’ve never once regretted writing her this way.
5. What’s one book you would have no trouble rereading for the rest of your life?
I think I could read Nicola Yoon’s THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR over and over. The writing is so beautiful, the characters so real, and the romance so sweet. Also, any of the Harry Potter books.
6. Can you tell us a bit about your current WIP? What should we expect in the future, book-wise?
I’m currently drafting Misaligned, which will be out fall 2019 with Simon Pulse. The book follows a teen outcast who is swept up in a forbidden romance and down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets when another Taiwanese family moves to her small, predominantly white Midwestern town. In this book, I explore race, identity, and the difficulty of communicating, especially with family.
As for further down the line, you can expect my next few books to continue featuring Taiwanese American characters struggling with identity. There is plenty more material to explore!
American Panda is out February 20th from Simon! Be sure to grab your copy; you don’t want to miss this one!
Alice is an 18 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.