American Panda was a pretty solid debut. It was high on everyone’s most anticipated lists because it’s about a Taiwanese-American teenager who goes to college and tries to balance life, family, and two different cultures. I really enjoyed it, and I’d be interested in seeing what Chao comes out with next.
Admittedly, I did find the writing to be a little disjointed. There was a lot of jumping around from scene to scene, which I’ve noticed is quite a common occurrence in debut books. I had the same issue with Dear Martin. It wasn’t enough to make me dislike the book because it had other things going for it, but I think the writing had a lot of room for improvement.
From what I’ve seen, the Taiwanese-American representation seems to be decent? I can’t speak from experience, obviously, but people from the same or similar cultures have said so. But anyway, I loved reading about the mix of cultures, and Chao provided a lot of insight there.
I loved Mei, the main character, and the focus was almost 100% on her instead of the love story, which was A+. The romance wasn’t overbearing at all.
So overall, while I feel like the writing style let the book down a bit, I did really enjoy it.