Fake Chinese Sounds

Fake Chinese Sounds
Age Range
Release Date
April 30, 2024
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A middle-grade graphic novel about a Taiwanese American girl navigating identity, bullying, and the messy process of learning to be comfortable in her skin.

Between homework, studying, and Chinese school, Měi Yīng’s summer is shaping up to be a boring one. Her only bright spots are practice with her soccer team, the Divas, and the time spent with her năi nai, who is visiting from Taiwan. Although Měi Yīng’s Mandarin isn’t the best and Năi Nai doesn’t speak English, they find other ways to connect, like cooking guōtiē together and doing tai chi in the mornings.

By the end of the summer, Měi Yīng is sad to see Năi Nai go—she’s the com­plete opposite of Měi Yīng serious professor mother—but excited to start fifth grade. Until new kid Sid starts making her the butt of racist jokes. Her best friend, Kirra, says to ignore him, but does everyone else’s silence about the harassment mean they’re also ignoring Sid . . . or her? As Sid’s bullying fuels Měi Yīng's feelings of invisibility, she must learn to reclaim her identity and her voice.

Editor review

1 review
Interesting Multigenerational Tale
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Mei Ying Lin lives in a small college town with her professor mother and is friends with Kirra, who is on her soccer team, and who calls her "Spark", a name bestowed by Kirra's grandmother, Coach Gran. When Mei Ying's grandmother visits from Taiwan, the two bond even though they don't speak the same language. The do tai chi, cook, and enjoy each other's company. After her grandmother returns home and the new school year starts, Mei Ying finds that one of her new classmates, Sid, is cruel and racist, but passes everything off as a joke, so her classmates, including Kirra, brush off Mei Ying's concerns. She eventually tells him off, and after a class International Day, he apologizes.

Good Points
I loved the relationship with the grandmother, and the difficulties with communication are interesting to see. This is somewhat similar to Shang's The Great Wall of Lucy Wu in that respect.

The dealings with the classmates are, sadly, timely, and it's good to see Mei Ying stand up for herself and see the other students supporting her. A graphic novel is a great way to sneak some advice on behaviors, manners, and how to treat other people!

There are a lot of graphic novels with Asian characters, going back to Yang's 2006 American Born Chinese, so Fake Chinese Sounds has good company with that book as well as Xu's Alterations, Khor's The Legend of Auntie Po, LaMotte and Xu's Measuring Up, Lai's Pie in the Sky, and Wang's Stargazing.
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