Published by Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
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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 germophobia 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?
In American Panda, dance is the one place my protagonist can be herself, where age, race, looks, and intelligence don’t matter. When she’s gliding across the floor, she’s not Taiwanese or American—she’s just Mei.
I’m so excited to share a collection of my favorite dance routines, many of which I watched for inspiration while writing. (Unfortunately, my favorite Chinese dance routines are not available online.)
I’d also love to share a sample of the music that inspired me while writing American Panda. For the scenes with Mei’s parents, I listened to Wang Leehom, my favorite Chinese pop singer. Fun fact: I first heard the two featured Wang Leehom songs in Taiwan in concert. For the hip hop dance scenes, Beyoncé and Missy Elliott always had me popping and locking in my chair as I typed. Yanni’s enchanting Nightingale is an example of the music I listened to for scenes where Mei mixes Chinese dance and jazz to form her own style, a reflection of her struggle with her identity.
I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the American Panda curtain! Thank you so much for reading, watching, and listening!
*~~About the Author~~*
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to check out another enchantingly epic #EE18ers post! 😉