Below is Gloria’s winning pitch of AMERICAN PANDA from Pitchapalooza 2015. You can read more about her experience at the event here.
Mei’s refusal to stick herself with needles makes her the crazy one in her traditional Taiwanese family. She tries to be the obedient daughter, but her mother’s comments about Mei’s expiring ovaries and unladylike eating habits are harder to stomach than fermented tofu. Good thing her parents don’t understand sarcasm.
Despite her mumbled comebacks, Mei’s life is on her parents’ predetermined track: she’s a senior at MIT, her medical school applications are in (even though she’s germophobic), and she no longer speaks to her brother, who her parents disowned for dating a reproductively-challenged woman. Ahem, ex-brother.
Thanks to a mysterious rash, Mei meets Dr. Tina Chang—the awkward, perpetually hunched, future version of herself. Tina’s unhappiness in her career and willingness to shun her homosexual brother “for the ancestors” make Mei question who she is.
The more she finds herself, the further she moves from her parents’ traditions. Rejecting all the sons of her mom’s friends, she pursues her crush even though he’s not a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer. When she musters the courage to tell her parents she’s not sure about medical school, they disown her, obviously—the only thing to do with a rogue child.
Mei faces a decision: sacrifice a piece of herself to repair her relationship with her parents or live the life she wants—but without family.
AMERICAN PANDA is MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING meets Amy Tan. AMERICAN PANDA is a 60,000 word, NA multicultural contemporary novel based on my experiences as a second-generation Taiwanese-American.
I earned a bachelor’s degree from MIT and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts Dental—the perfect Taiwanese-American daughter. Except I wasn’t happy. To get through practicing dentistry, I wrote. It took years to gather the strength to push my dental career aside, against my parent’s wishes, to pursue writing full-time. Our relationship suffered, but my most recent novel, AMERICAN PANDA, strengthened our bond by forcing me to ask questions I never dared before. Now, my mother and I laugh about fermented tofu and setups with the perfect Taiwanese boy (though I think she still worries about my expiring ovaries).
You can find out more about Gloria at her website and on twitter.