A review by erinashems
The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen


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.