Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American

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Product Details
$26.99  $25.10
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.1 X 1.0 inches | 1.75 pounds

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About the Author

Laura Gao is a comic artist and bread lover currently living in San Francisco. Her debut graphic novel, Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American, received several starred reviews. Laura's art career began by doodling on Pokémon cards and has since blossomed to be featured on NPR, HuffPost, and, most notably, her parents' fridge. She is a proud queer Asian American immigrant and strives to inspire others to live unapologetically loud. Laura's pronouns are she/they. Say hello and send her bakery recommendations at


"In this fresh, frank, and tender debut, author-illustrator Gao offers a compellingly layered graphic memoir.... A multidimensional, thoroughly entertaining account of growing into queer Asian American identity." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In this poignant memoir, Gao -conveys her love for her home country and her journey as an immigrant. Her voice is grounded yet humorous; she illustrates a more -nuanced Wuhan than the one depicted in current media, while conveying the difficulty of being a part of American society yet never feeling truly at home. A tender story of self-acceptance that lifts the story of Wuhan beyond COVID and shines light on a -region with a rich culture and history." -- School Library Journal (starred review)

"Gao personalizes her experiences with insight and humor. This book delivers a coming-of-age story that tackles themes of immigration, assimilation, racism, sexuality, and self-identity. An affecting and candid depiction of the universal search for one's place in the world." -- Horn Book (starred review)

"The narrative overlays immigrant community dynamics with the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender in young adults' identity development while drawing on Chinese cultural icons old and new, such as White Rabbit candies.... A nuanced representation of being Asian and transnational in the contemporary U.S." -- Kirkus Reviews

"In this beautifully illustrated graphic memoir, debut author/artist Gao does an excellent job of representing the complexity and challenges that came with growing up as young Chinese immigrant... [H]eartfelt and relatable." -- Booklist

"Messy Roots is a laugh-out-loud, heartfelt and deeply engaging story of their journey to find themself--as an American, as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, as a queer person and as a Wuhanese American in the middle of a pandemic. Through hilarious inner dialogue, videogaming references and fun explainers, Gao effortlessly brings readers into their world." -- Malaka Gharib, author of I Was Their American Dream

"Messy Roots is funny, intimate, absorbing, and deeply moving. What a gift to have this peek into Laura Gao's memories, in all their sweetness and complexity." -- Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Kate in Waiting

"Finding ourselves can be messy, but Laura Gao tells her story of self-discovery with honest and vulnerable beauty." -- Mike Curato, Lambda Award-winning author of Flamer

"Messy Roots surprised me in all the best ways. It's a book that will stay with you for a long time to come." -- Tillie Walden, author of On a Sunbeam

"Hilarious, heartfelt, and beautifully illustrated, Messy Roots deserves to join the Chinese American canon right next to Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese." -- R.F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War

"Messy Roots is about the hardship of identity and the beautiful but messy journey to find it." -- Aminder Dhaliwal, author of Cyclopedia Exotica