Book Review: The Magic Fish

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Published by Random House Graphic on October 13th 2020
Genres: Graphic Novel, Queer, Young Adult, Contemporary, Fairytales, Retellings
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“They say we’re meant to go from here to there, but so much happens between those two places.”

This book y’all! THIS BOOK! I don’t have words to describe how much I loved this, but I’m going to try.

This beautifully drawn graphic novel follows a Vietnamese teen called Tiến, who is trying to figure out how to come out to his family, and his mother, who feels lost so far from home.

I honestly don’t want to give out too much because it’s such an emotional and hopeful read, that I think it’s best enjoyed without too much information, but the way the author ties everything together is wonderfully done.

Just know that I loved this and if you want to read a hopeful tale about family, finding your way, and the power of stories then this book is for you.

Also!!! Definitely read all the end notes, the author talks about what kind of story he set out to tell and about the threads weaved throughout the book.

“It’s an old, old story. Details change. Things change. And now this story is ours. Yours and mine.”

About the book

Real life isn’t a fairytale.

But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through?

Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?

A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected. The Magic Fish tackles tough subjects in a way that accessible with readers of all ages, and teaches us that no matter what–we can all have our own happy endings.

Content Warnings:

Death, homophobia, grief, forced outing, and religious bigotry.

And in the fairytales there is violence, blood, a minor instance of cannibalism, parental abuse, domestic abuse, animal death, murder, and kidnapping.

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