Reviews

The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen

erinashems's review against another edition

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4.0

Because Tien's mother, Helen, is a Vietnamese refugee, the two of them have always been rooted in separate cultures, upbringings, and almost entirely different worlds. Both, however, have their own struggles: Tien is gay but can't find the courage or words to tell his mother, and Helen, struggling to communicate with her son, feels guilt for leaving her mother behind years ago. Through fairy tales that span both cultures, Tien and Helen are able to develop a mutual language and develop their relationship as mother and son.

This graphic novel was wonderful at interweaving fairy tales and reality, really emphasizing the themes that run through both. For example, I never thought of The Little Mermaid as an immigrant story, but...duh. While Tien is the protagonist of this graphic novel, Helen's story is what gets told through these metaphors, giving this graphic novel far more depth and room for analysis than I anticipated.

ryanlee's review

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emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.25

What a beautiful, moving graphic novel. I love that the story is as much about his mother trying to meet him where he is, as it is about him trying to reach out and share something with his  mother. The use of color to differentiate the three narrative strands is great, especially when they the narratives draft to bleed into one another. And most of all, I appreciated the message from the aunt, for both the mom and the son, that stories change with us—they aren’t static.

whitecat5000's review against another edition

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4.0

While this was so cute and wholesome, it was just a little too much. Too many story-lines made me less invested in the characters.

oliviagoldie's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

deusmaxmachina_'s review against another edition

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emotional funny reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

jurassicapark's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful inspiring lighthearted reflective sad medium-paced
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

5.0

tracie's review against another edition

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3.0

3.5

literaryventure's review against another edition

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5.0

this graphic novel is a masterpiece. visually, i love the drawings done in primary colors to separate the present, fairy tale retellings, flashbacks, etc. the art is magnificent, absolutely beautiful. i highly recommend not skipping the “between words and pictures” section at the very end. the fairy tale retellings are wonderfully magical and highly enjoyable. i really love fairy tale retellings and the ones in this book are amazing.

the story itself is what makes this book so precious to me. it explores the negatives that can come after immigration, grappling with one’s sexuality, and how storytelling is a mode of escapism as well as an anchor for connection. i liked how this was a combination of tien and his mom’s perspectives, as it allows readers to see how both of their narratives play out and how they connect. this book proves that a picture does speak a thousand words because i came away from this feeling like i read all the unspoken words that the pictures are able to tell. it’s a magical, heartwarming book that has my unceasing appreciation.

madisonbaker's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional lighthearted relaxing medium-paced

5.0

aalderman8's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.25