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Gloria Chao Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

American Panda (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Gloria Chao is an American author of fiction. She graduated from M.I.T. and started working as a dentist, but turned to writing! She made the decision around 2013 to totally switch her career moving from dentist to writer. She says that the difficulty in it was the amount of uncertainty that can exist in writing, as well as how much effort she put into going to school and pursuing her career.

However, now that Chao has switched over to writing as her occupation full-time, she says that she has never loved life more. Chao says that she wakes up every morning in disbelief at how her real life is even better than her dreams and she gets to write all day long. Plus, she can wear whatever she wants while doing this, even pajamas! This beats out her job as a dentist, where she could wear scrubs which were comfortable but nowhere near the comfort level that pajamas achieve.

Gloria Chao lives in Chicago with her husband, with whom she enjoys golfing. She also enjoys cooperative board games, soup dumplings, and the game Dance Dance Revolution. Chao used to be a competitive dancer and even reached the black belt level in Kung Fu. However, she no longer dances or does kung fu.

Chao says that when it comes to writer’s block, some days are better for writing than others. However, she emphasizes that the beauty of the process comes from the flexibility that it allows not only when it comes to writing but also when you don’t feel like writing you can read other novels, edit existing writing, reading craft books, going on social media, and working on her career.

Her debut novel is titled American Panda and was released February of 2018 by Simon Pulse and Simon & Schuster. She can be found on her site, gloriachao.wordpress.com, which focuses on all things books, tea, and writing. She states that her literary influences include Amy Tan, Jenny Han, David Arnold, and Rainbow Rowell and aims to follow in their very large footsteps.

American Panda is Gloria Chao’s first novel. It is a funny and modern contemporary debut and a strong first showing from Chao. The story is about a teenage girl who is Taiwanese-American who is feeling the pressures of being in America but with the traditional expectations of her parents influencing her.

Mei is seventeen years old and while this would normally mean that she was in high school, her parents purposely had her skip the fourth grade in order to advance her. It’s part of their master plan and it paid off as Mei is now a very young freshman attending M.I.T.

According to her parents, Mei is on track. But this Taiwanese-American teen isn’t sure that she wants to be the one to make the future her parents have planned for her come to life. If they had their way, she would become a doctor after years of schooling and meet a nice Ivy League young man and get married to him. Oh, and it would be ideal if he were Taiwanese as well.

But is Mei set to be a doctor even though she successfully got into a very prestigious New England college? She’s not so sure. For one thing, she’s not so crazy about interacting with germs– so how is she supposed to channel that and go into the medical field? It’s looking like the predetermined future set out for Mei by her parents is not going to work out if she has anything to do with it.

The last thing that Mei wants to do is become a doctor and marry some Taiwanese Ivy League guy that has been preapproved by her parents. Then she’s supposed to either manage her busy career and have children or stay home with the children– then what was the point of going into medicine in the first place? Mei isn’t sure what her future holds, but she thinks that it should hold a bit more than just what her parents want for her.

Complicating things is the crush that Mei is harboring for a fellow classmate of Japanese descent. This already is throwing off the grand master plan, and Mei’s crush may throw this train off of the rails once and for all. The idea that she’s going to become a doctor, marry a Taiwanese man, and have baby after baby is overwhelming and a little too much for Mei.

Even though she is not totally on board with the master plan of her parents, Mei is painfully aware of what her parents have sacrificed so that she could have the life that many others only can dream of. They came from Taiwan and made sacrifice after sacrifice so she could have a good life. The prospect of telling them the truth about what she wants is complicated for Mei by the knowledge of what they have given up and how they have struggled.

But the truth is this– Mei does not like germs. She falls asleep during biology lectures when she should be awake. And the scariest truth of all: that she really likes her Japanese classmate and she doesn’t think he’s ever going to somehow change his DNA to be Taiwanese and meet their expectations and hopes and dreams.

Mei doesn’t know what to do, but connecting with her brother Xing may provide some potential answers. Xing is estranged because he dated a woman they did not approve of. But when it comes to keeping her life secret, Mei doesn’t want to have to hide what she wants. Even if it means ending up like her brother, Mei is starting to think that it’s not worth it to live your life for other people to be happy if it makes you miserable.

Can Mei come clean with her parents and find the courage to tell them the truth? Or will the fear of the possible repercussions keep her from going for what she truly wants and living the life that she really wants? Find out by picking up American Panda from Gloria Chao today and seeing how the story ends!

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