|Messy roots : a graphic memoir of a Wuhanese American|
Author: Gao, Laura
After spending her early years in Wuhan, China, riding water buffalos and devouring stinky tofu, Laura immigrates to Texas where her hometown is as foreign as Mars -- at least until 2020, when COVID-19 made Wuhan a household name. In graphic novel format.
Kirkus Reviews (01/01/22)
School Library Journal (+) (03/01/22)
The Hornbook (+) (00/03/22)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2022 In this beautifully illustrated graphic memoir, debut author/artist Gao does an excellent job of representing the complexity and challenges that came with growing up as young Chinese immigrant in a small, predominately white town in Texas. It begins with Gao's carefree early childhood in Wuhan, China, which consisted of listening to folktales told by her grandmother, eating delicious Wuhanese dishes made by her grandfather, and playing outside with her cousins for hours. After this, the story addresses themes similar to other recent coming-of-age memoirs focusing on the immigrant experience in this country, such as acceptance, anti-immigrant hate, racial discrimination, family expectations, and cultural and social adaptation. Beyond Gao's circumstances as an immigrant, her depiction of her experiences as an athlete, daughter, sister, and a young woman wrestling with her identity and sexuality will resonate with a wide range of young adult readers. Overall, this heartfelt and relatable graphic memoir will appeal to readers interested in learning about just how messy and complex life can be for young immigrants growing up in the U.S. - Copyright 2022 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2022 Gr 7 Up—In this poignant memoir, Gao conveys her love for her home country and her journey as an immigrant. Born in Wuhan, China, young Yuyang grows up surrounded by rice paddies, riding water buffalo with her mischievous cousins under the watchful eyes of her grandparents. But soon she joins her parents, who are attending graduate school in the United States, and she finds herself in a frightening, overstimulating world. Her teachers and classmates can't pronounce her name, and she drops her Chinese name for "Laura," after then–First Lady Laura Bush. Gao describes the American public school system, where she felt desperate to fit in and become the star basketball player; the University of Pennsylvania, where she was able to carve out her identity; and life as a young professional in San Francisco before circling back to Wuhan today and the specter of the COVID pandemic. Her voice is grounded yet humorous; she illustrates a more nuanced Wuhan than the one depicted in current media, while conveying the difficulty of being a part of American society yet never feeling truly at home. Underpinning her external struggles is Gao's deeper understanding of herself as she reckons with her sexual identity, eventually coming out as queer. Depicting her hometown in thick, organic brushstrokes and a warm palette, she evokes a sense of peace and beauty and a longing to return to her origins. For scenes in America, Gao relies on a muddy palette that suggests the challenges of fitting into an uncomfortable environment. VERDICT A tender story of self-acceptance that lifts the story of Wuhan beyond COVID and shines light on a region with a rich culture and history.—Elise Martinez - Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.