is a collection of three stories, told simultaneously and finishing with an unexpected cross-pollination: one is a cute retelling of Journey to the East (with some slightly distracting Christian imagery sprinkled in), another is a Wonder-Yearsy memoir of a young boy named Jin who feels left out of local American culture because his parents are Asian, and the other is a sitcom called "Everyone Ruvs Chin-Kee," in which a very average white boy named Danny is mortified by his astoundingly offensive Chinese cousin.

We're not Chinese ourselves, so we can't vouch for the book's resonance with Asians. But replace "Asian" with "gay" and it's the story of all of our friends' early adolescences: knowing we were different, longing for opportunities to assimilate and hating everything that reminded us of how we felt about ourselves, blah blah blah. As a matter of fact, that might actually have been just about everyone's preteen experience -- Asian, gay, smart, tall, Latvian, freckled, whatever. When the Monkey King would rather be imprisoned under a mountain than be a monkey, when Jin wishes he could be a Transformer when he grows up, and when Danny is terrified that everyone is comparing him to his buck-toothed academics-obsessed American-Idol-auditioning cousin, there's no way to sigh and remember going through exactly the same thing yourself.

American Born Chinese