Monday, May 30, 2022

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen


It's AAPI month and I've been trying to read as many Asian-authored books on my Kindle as possible. THE MAGIC FISH was a book I was really excited about because it's a graphic-novel that interweaves fantasy with the story of a boy's coming of age.

Tien is the son of Vietnamese immigrants. His parents are loving, but they had to struggle for and give up a lot to become U.S. citizens, and their English isn't very good. Sometimes, it feels like there is an emotional barrier between him and them, because Tien feels like his struggles are nothing compared to theirs. He also knows he's gay and he's afraid of coming out to his parents and having him reject that or not accept him.

In between all of this, we see Tien and his parents and friends interact on a day to day basis, interwoven with all of these beautiful fairytales, like Cinderella or the Little Mermaid, but with a little twist. It's fascinating how the stories parallel the events going on in the main timeline and I just loved how intricate that was.

This is such a beautifully emotional book. It made me tear up several times. Sometimes the fairytales could be a little horrific-- especially the Cinderella one towards the end-- but I think a lot of fairytales are pretty morbid. Tien was a very likable character and so were his mom and dad. I really liked when we started getting these little snippets that showed them as people, outside of being parents.

What a beautiful, haunting read.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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