73 pages 2 hours read

Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese

Fiction | Graphic Novel/Book | Middle Grade | Published in 2006

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Important Quotes

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“Look. You may be a king-you may even be a deity-but you are still a monkey. Have a good evening, sir.” 

(Section 1, Page 15)

As the Monkey King stands in the queue for the dinner party in heaven, he fully expects to be admitted to the gathering with the other guests; he is a deity, and, therefore, he is entitled to mingle with other deities. When the guard denies him entry and explains that his status as a monkey overrides his status as a deity, the Monkey King experiences discrimination for the first time. He lashes out in rage and disappointment, and then he returns home to his jungle kingdom, where he feels shame for being a monkey.

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“It’s easy to be anything you wish…so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.” 

(Section 2, Page 29)

When Jin goes to see the Chinese herbalist with his mother, he does not expect to hear this confusing insight from the herbalist’s wife. As a child, his wish to be his toy transformer is innocent, but his desire foreshadows his transformation into Danny later in the novel. This transformation is marked by pain and paranoia, a high price to pay for denying one’s own authentic identity. To the herbalist’s wife, Jin’s suffering at his own hands is proof that he forfeited his soul to be someone he is not.

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By Gene Luen Yang