Sunday's New York Times Book Review devoted a full page to a review (by YA author Ned Vizzini--Be More Chill) of American Born Chinese and Stuck in the Middle, two graphic novels aimed at readers 12 and up that tackle the tough issues of racial, sexual and social identity. While both of these volumes are suitable for young adults, they each have a potent appeal to older readers as well.
Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, published by First Second, has already won the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature (see 'American Born Chinese Wins Printz Award'), and though Vizzini finds faults with a few 'crass' elements, he loves Yang's art, which 'blends the clean lines of anime with a bold American palette,' and concludes: 'Gene Luen Yang has created that rare article: a youthful tale with something new to say about American youth.'
While American Born Chinese features three interwoven tales from one artist, the soon-to-be-published (May 17th) Stuck in the Middle: 17 Tales From an Unpleasant Age (Viking Juvenile ISBN 978-0670062218) is an anthology of comics about life in junior high school edited by Ariel Schrag with contributions from Daniel Clowes, Lauren Weinstein, Eric Enright, Aaron Renier, Joe Matt and others. If American Born Chinese deals primarily with race, Stuck in the Middle ponders the difficult quandaries of sexuality and morality. In his review Vizzini points out that though some selections like Daniel Clowes' are hilarious, others lay bare the self-loathing torment of adolescence, a subject that is far from humorous. Though he criticizes some authors for presenting 'excerpts from larger works,' Vizzini concludes that 'by and large it is excellent, and the variety of the art ensures that the reader never get bored.'