Mei is a 17-year-old in college, and she should have her whole life planned out, but she doesn’t. Then again, it doesn’t matter as her parents have planned it for her: pre-med at MIT, become a doctor, marry a Taiwanese Ivy League students (preapproved by her parents of course, and have children with him, preferably starting with a son. And if Mei doesn’t follow this plan, well, then she’ll end up like her brother: disowned, left on his own, with no financial or emotional support whatsoever. However, the one thing Mei does know is that she doesn’t want to be a doctor. She hates germs and everything related to medical school, but she still tries to convince herself it’ll be okay by shadowing a doctor on campus, but it’s hard to make yourself into the person you least want to be.
As Mei starts to figure out what she wants and who she is, away from her parents (mostly), she also discovers what really happened with her brother. He got disowned because he started dating the wrong girl. Mei starts to reconnect with them, and she starts to wonder if lying to herself and her family is worth it. She doesn’t want to end up like her brother, but she also doesn’t want to become the perfect Chinese girl, especially with her love for dance, and this new boy that’s caught her eye – a boy that is not Taiwanese. Can she fix everything before it all blows up in her face?
Gloria Chao has given us a heartfelt novel that shows us how to find the best of every situation and how to be true to ourselves, no matter what anyone says. American Panda will have you rooting for Mei all the way through, crying with her, laughing with her, and hoping for the best. American Panda is a story about acceptance and loving yourself, even in the face of adversity.