Graphic Novel: Level Up

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, art by Thien Pham. 2011.

Every parent’s dream for their children is drawn (no pun intended) to its highest level.  All that Dennis Ouyang’s parents wanted for their son was for him to grow up, finish college, graduate from medical school, and become specifically a gastroenterologist.  Gastroenterology is the study of the digestive system.  Not an easy future for a young boy in the third grade to consider.

But like most children of immigrant parents, Dennis complies with their directives.   It is only after his father’s death that he pursues his true passion–video games!  However, the video games eventually interfere with his studies, and he is kicked out of college.

Fortunately, Dennis has four angels that help “persuade” the dean to reconsider his expulsion.  The four angels help him with his daily chores, including the dishes and laundry, so that he can focus on his studies.

Sounds really cool, huh???  Now consider this story written by the award-winning graphic novelist Gene Yang (American Born Chinese) and expect an awesome story with a Hitchcock-type ending.  Thien Pham’s straightforward art combined with the traditional request of immigrant parents make this a familiar topic for many first-generation readers.

This graphic novel is recommended for 8th grade and up (mild language).

Blogger:  Tuan N