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The Magic Fish: A Graphic Novel

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Tiến loves his family and his friends...but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together. 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 libr Tiến loves his family and his friends...but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together. 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.


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Tiến loves his family and his friends...but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together. 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 libr Tiến loves his family and his friends...but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together. 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.

30 review for The Magic Fish: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    This was such a stunning story, both in terms of the writing and illustrations! I loved seeing how the fairy tales in some ways reflected the story taking place in our main characters narratives, it was such a clever way to go about telling the story. While it is a very slice of life story, throughout it you uncover a lot of layers and history within our main characters family. I'm excited for Trung Le Nguyen to release more works in the future, because this was excellent from beginning to end. This was such a stunning story, both in terms of the writing and illustrations! I loved seeing how the fairy tales in some ways reflected the story taking place in our main characters narratives, it was such a clever way to go about telling the story. While it is a very slice of life story, throughout it you uncover a lot of layers and history within our main characters family. I'm excited for Trung Le Nguyen to release more works in the future, because this was excellent from beginning to end.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Romie

    *cries in queer vietnamese*

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kai

    "Joy is a precious thing. And precious things are few. So we learn to hold on to them." This was the most amazing graphic novel. It's a fairytale retelling, a coming out story, a story about immigration and communication and love. Tiến is 13, has a crush on his best friend Julian, and loves to read fairytales with his mother. In school we see him spend time with his friends, battling his teachers’ homophobia and going to school dances. Back home we see the tender relationship between Tiến and his "Joy is a precious thing. And precious things are few. So we learn to hold on to them." This was the most amazing graphic novel. It's a fairytale retelling, a coming out story, a story about immigration and communication and love. Tiến is 13, has a crush on his best friend Julian, and loves to read fairytales with his mother. In school we see him spend time with his friends, battling his teachers’ homophobia and going to school dances. Back home we see the tender relationship between Tiến and his mother blossom. Not only is it stunningly drawn, it also merges history - Tiến's mum's escape from post-war Vietnam and her return almost a decade later - with magic in the form of original reinterpretations of popular fairytale classics. The result is magnificent and powerful. The Magic Fish discusses so many things with so few words and brushstrokes and I'm in awe of the nuance and beauty captured between these pages. Find more of my books on Instagram

  4. 5 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    4 stars ✨ ❤️ The book was breathtaking beautiful. The art and illustrations are lovely and intricate. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. It was innocent and sweet and at the same time portrays the aggression experienced by immigrants and queer people. And that ending was so sweet. I hugged my mom so hard after reading that. The fairy tales with Asian twists was like cherry on cake for me

  5. 4 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live,’ wrote Joan Didion. Stories help us contextualize the world around us and at a young age has been shown to shape our empathy and help us grow. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen is a stellar graphic novel that shows the interplay between life and literature and the ways storytelling can empower and shape us. The book follows Tiến and his family through a period of griefs and struggles centering around familial relationships. As a first generation Ameri ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live,’ wrote Joan Didion. Stories help us contextualize the world around us and at a young age has been shown to shape our empathy and help us grow. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen is a stellar graphic novel that shows the interplay between life and literature and the ways storytelling can empower and shape us. The book follows Tiến and his family through a period of griefs and struggles centering around familial relationships. As a first generation American born to Vietnamese refugees, the language barrier between him and his parents is a daunting obstacle in his plan to come out to them as gay and meanwhile his mother is processing her grief over her aging and ill mother she hasn’t seen since she left Vietnam. To help them process the sadnesses of life, they read Vietnamese fairytales to each other, and the three retellings here probe deeper into the psychology of their lives through brilliant juxtaposition of the interwoven narratives. The beautifully intricate artwork and heartfelt storytelling sends the reader on an emotional investigation of generational traumas, alienation, and queer struggles through a stunning portrayal of an immigrant family trying their best to reach and love one another. ‘Joy is a precious thing. And precious things are few. So we learn to hold on to them’ This graphic novel is a real emotional deep dive that manages to remain shimmering with beauty even through the darkest moments. The fairy tales, retellings of Vietnamese versions such as Cinderella or The Little Mermaid, feel fresh and exciting but perfectly compliment the current lives of the characters. An empathetic reader often packs the stories they are currently obsessing over into their lives and personalities a bit, which is a notion I’ve often felt and truly comes alive here. Reading a book you are engrossed in becomes like a pair of colored sunglasses that temporarily tint the world with its atmosphere. The Magic Fish reminds us of that and explores the way storytelling can have a healing power and help us see more clearly when we step outside ourselves and view it as a story. Trung Le Nguyen approaches the character’s lives with the slightest of touches, entering their struggles and griefs without dwelling too much which leaves so much of the deeper understanding to grow within the readers mind like an emotional participant. There is a playfulness and soft whimsicality threaded through the book that paces out relief from the ever growing tensions. Threading is what this book does best, with each narrative drawn in one of three hues to denote if it is their life, the stories they read, or a memory. The yellow memory frames crop up to seamlessly thread timelines and, which they are sparse and only offer hints, completely expand your understanding and deliver some of the strongest emotional punches. There is a lot going on here, with generational struggles, language barriers and a coming out that sparks the ire of a teacher. Tiến is sent to a priest and the shame of being gay is attempted to be forced upon him, but the balance between the acceptance of his friends really makes this a comforting and empowering queer narrative that doens’t shirk away from the problems of acceptance. It becomes a form of alienation from the general public--one that claims to want everyone to integrate but then pushes people away for their identities--as a parallel to the alienation his parents feel as refugees in new place with only a modest grasp on the language. This is a story that is sure to spark empathy and leave you thinking about many forms of identity, perfectly handled in a way that will resonate and stick with the YA audience it is aimed at but equally as powerful to adult readers. A truly magical and beautiful book about the power of storytelling and the struggles of living, The Magic Fish is a massive success. Also it is perfect for Pride Month, so definitely check it out! 4.5/5

  6. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    it is 12pm on a Friday and here I am weeping in bed over this story... this was [clenches fist] so good 4.5 stars, rtc

  7. 5 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    rep: Vietnamese-American gay mc, Vietnamese mc, Vietnamese characters, sapphic characters tw: cannibalism, off page death, on page death, murder, blood, homophobia ARC provided by the publisher. It’s a simple story at the first glance but don’t be fooled, there’s so much going on here, you’ll be thinking about The Magic Fish for days. And the book does an excellent job of accentuating different arcs, different story lines: the present is drawn in red, the past in yellow, and the fairy tales in rep: Vietnamese-American gay mc, Vietnamese mc, Vietnamese characters, sapphic characters tw: cannibalism, off page death, on page death, murder, blood, homophobia ARC provided by the publisher. It’s a simple story at the first glance but don’t be fooled, there’s so much going on here, you’ll be thinking about The Magic Fish for days. And the book does an excellent job of accentuating different arcs, different story lines: the present is drawn in red, the past in yellow, and the fairy tales in blue.  But the stories and colors intertwine; sometimes there’s a single blue panel between a page of red to make you realise how the protagonist thinks about something. The faces are also the same ones across the present/past and the fairy tales. Because, really, our lives can be just as magical.  There’s talk of escaping from your own homeland so you can live safely, of pain caused by living on foreign soil far away from everything & everyone you know and love, of feeling disconnected from your own flesh & blood because you grew up in vastly different circumstances, of… At its core, though, The Magic Fish is a story about love. Everything in this graphic novel only happens because someone loved another person and would do anything to protect them. There are different shades of it, different ways of showing it. Sometimes we can just say “I love you”, sometimes our love language is just small everyday life actions. You could write a whole dissertation about the use of color in The Magic Fish, the use of fairy tales to tell a present-day story, the use of characters designs to help the reader make the right connections. But at the end of the day, all of those amazing artistic choices are there to make you feel, and this book will make you cry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    This is a masterpiece and I am in awe of the art, the storytelling, the tenderness, the love... I am but a potato, crying her potato eyes out over this book. I don't even think I can review this, other than it's about how love transcends everything, about hope and second chances, about grief and heartache, about stories and reality. The Magic Fish is just. a work of Art. Please read this, and then come cry with me. This is a masterpiece and I am in awe of the art, the storytelling, the tenderness, the love... I am but a potato, crying her potato eyes out over this book. I don't even think I can review this, other than it's about how love transcends everything, about hope and second chances, about grief and heartache, about stories and reality. The Magic Fish is just. a work of Art. Please read this, and then come cry with me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    when i started reading the magic fish, i was struck by the similarity between the art here and the art in my tarot deck, the star spinner tarot. then i realized the deck artist, trungles, is none other than author trung le nguyen!! one and the same!! the star spinner tarot art is close to my heart, so needless to say, i absolutely adore this book's art as well. it's absolutely beautiful. so dreamy and evocative, and somehow both classic and fresh. i also love the book's shifting color palettes as when i started reading the magic fish, i was struck by the similarity between the art here and the art in my tarot deck, the star spinner tarot. then i realized the deck artist, trungles, is none other than author trung le nguyen!! one and the same!! the star spinner tarot art is close to my heart, so needless to say, i absolutely adore this book's art as well. it's absolutely beautiful. so dreamy and evocative, and somehow both classic and fresh. i also love the book's shifting color palettes as the story goes back and forth between the deep indigo fairytale world, the yellowed past, and the vibrant reddish present. it's a joy to dip back and forth between these worlds. trung's author's note talks about immigrant experiences, and his goal to write a small story about a vietnamese american mother and son's connection. helen and tien bond over dark, interesting versions of classic fairytales, and it's absolutely lovely. also, tien's gay crush is the purest thing ever! despite the dreadful indications of homophobia in tien's world, and strife of helen's past in vietnam, the book remains remarkably tender and soft. i suppose it's like a fairytale in that way. the horrible twisted things are there, but love and tenderness prevail 💕

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Middle Grade/Young Adult Graphic Novels. This is about a Vietnamese family that is living in American, and is being told by the son, Tie who is in High School (I think). Tie's parents are having trouble learning English, so they read books together. Tie is also gay, and he not sure how to tell his family. I did not know if I would enjoyed this book, but I decided to give it a try when I saw Gavin talk about it. I loved this book so much. I know some people say it is middle grade and so This is a Middle Grade/Young Adult Graphic Novels. This is about a Vietnamese family that is living in American, and is being told by the son, Tie who is in High School (I think). Tie's parents are having trouble learning English, so they read books together. Tie is also gay, and he not sure how to tell his family. I did not know if I would enjoyed this book, but I decided to give it a try when I saw Gavin talk about it. I loved this book so much. I know some people say it is middle grade and some say it is Young Adult. I say there is nothing in this book I would not want my daughter who is in 6st grade to read, so I think it is middle grade. I do think this is one of those books 5th grade on really could read and love. I think adults and young kids could love this book. There is so much different things going on that anyone could love this book for many different reason. The pictures in this book are so great, and the pictures just brought this story to life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    Please read this. It's so quietly beautiful, the text, the art, the main story and the fairytales are woven together so masterfully, it will warm your heart. It's a new favourite graphic novel for me for sure. Please read this. It's so quietly beautiful, the text, the art, the main story and the fairytales are woven together so masterfully, it will warm your heart. It's a new favourite graphic novel for me for sure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    breana / milkyboos ♡

    this magical book, *clenches fist* i love it

  13. 5 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | Once upon a time... The Magic Fish is quite possibly one of the most beautiful, poignant, and awe-inspiring graphic novels I have ever read. The story takes places in 90s America and we follow Tiến, a young boy, who loves reading fairy tales with his parents. Tiến's parents are refugees from Vietnam and cannot speak English as fluidly as he does. This language barrier makes it hard for Tiến to confide in them that he is queer. The mother/son relationship in The Magi | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | Once upon a time... The Magic Fish is quite possibly one of the most beautiful, poignant, and awe-inspiring graphic novels I have ever read. The story takes places in 90s America and we follow Tiến, a young boy, who loves reading fairy tales with his parents. Tiến's parents are refugees from Vietnam and cannot speak English as fluidly as he does. This language barrier makes it hard for Tiến to confide in them that he is queer. The mother/son relationship in The Magic Fish is complex and moving. The bond between mother and son is rendered with empathy and sensitivity. The three fairy tales Tiến reads in the course of the narrative allow him to connect with his parents, in particular his mother. Although each story is inspired by an existing fairy tale, Trung Le Nguyen presents us with three unique takes which perfectly complement Tiến and his mother's stories. The first two tales are based on variants of 'Cinderella' (the German 'Allerleirauh' and the Vietnamese 'Tấm Cám') while the last one is a reworking of 'The Little Mermaid'. I loved the different aesthetics of these tales: the first one has a Europeanesque setting, the second one seems to take place in 1950s Vietnam, and the last, this according to the author, juxtaposes the mermaid's realm, which has elements from Hong Kong wuxia films, with the human one, 1980s San Francisco. Trung Le Nguyen's illustrations are stunning (they reminded me of Moto Hagio and Daisuke Igarashi). I loved the way in which each narrative had a distinctive colour palette. Trung Le Nguyen set out to tell a specific story and he definitely succeeded in doing so. The Magic Fish is simply stunning and I will definitely pick up whatever Trung Le Nguyen writes/draws next.

  14. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    Gosh, this book tackled so much, especially for a graphic novel— and it pulled it off so well. You don’t find many YA stories that deeply examine the adult characters as well as the teens, so this was a breath of fresh air. I really felt for Tien and his mother and their personal struggles; the fact that they connect with one another over library books/Vietnamese fairytales is so heartwarming. The fairytales were also interesting, and I loved the parallels between them and the real world struggl Gosh, this book tackled so much, especially for a graphic novel— and it pulled it off so well. You don’t find many YA stories that deeply examine the adult characters as well as the teens, so this was a breath of fresh air. I really felt for Tien and his mother and their personal struggles; the fact that they connect with one another over library books/Vietnamese fairytales is so heartwarming. The fairytales were also interesting, and I loved the parallels between them and the real world struggles. The art style was phenomenal! It ended a bit too suddenly for me, but it also ended on a high note, so I can’t complain too much! Also, it walks the line between YA and middle grade, and I personally think this leans a little more toward being MG than YA. 5/5 stars and a new favorite graphic novel.

  15. 4 out of 5

    theresa

    Told through myth and reality, past and present, Trung Le Nguyen weaves a masterful tale about family, language and identity. The Magic Fish follows Tiến, a young boy with a love of stories and a secret. He wishes he could tell his parents, but he doesn’t know how - they struggle with English and he doesn’t know the Vietnamese words for what he’s going through, to tell them he’s gay. I’ve never reviewed a graphic novel before so you’ll have to bear with me here, but I really loved The Magic Fish Told through myth and reality, past and present, Trung Le Nguyen weaves a masterful tale about family, language and identity. The Magic Fish follows Tiến, a young boy with a love of stories and a secret. He wishes he could tell his parents, but he doesn’t know how - they struggle with English and he doesn’t know the Vietnamese words for what he’s going through, to tell them he’s gay. I’ve never reviewed a graphic novel before so you’ll have to bear with me here, but I really loved The Magic Fish. The art was gorgeous and whimsical and I loved the use of colour separating story from present from past. Additionally, something that didn’t completely click until I read the author’s note was the narrator’s perception of the world influencing the art of the story, particularly in terms of fashion. For example, when Tiến’s great aunt tells a story, the characters are wearing the clothing most common in her youth. I really liked this distinction between storytellers and the variation in styles and fashion it allowed for. Additionally, I found that the themes of immigration and identity were handled with a lot of nuance. This was a very small story which left room for exploring these themes with impressive depth and sensitivity. The use of language and problems with communication were particularly interesting to me as a student of foreign languages and I loved the way this intertwined so beautifully with the fairytales and questions of identity. I also found the emphasis on family and connection really beautiful and heartwarming, and I particularly loved Tiến’s relationship with his mother. The artwork captured emotion perfectly, creating an incredibly moving story. Overall, The Magic Fish was beautiful both in art and story. Trung Le Nguyen explored a range of complex themes relating to the immigrant experience with great care and sensitivity, creating a story accessible to all ages. Through both Western and Vietnamese fairy tales, The Magic Fish illustrates universal experiences such as love and family and expertly weaves them into the present day, showing that stories and human connection transcend time and place. I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter *finished copy received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher*

  16. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars. Trung Le Nguyen's The Magic Fish is a poignant, beautiful graphic novel about finding the right words to tell your story. Tién knows he is gay, but he’s not ready for everyone to know it yet until he tells his parents. The thing is, his parents are Vietnamese refugees and they don’t speak English very well. He worries he might not be able to find the right Vietnamese words to tell his parents who he really is. And if he does, will they accept him or will he disappoint them? One way t 4.5 stars. Trung Le Nguyen's The Magic Fish is a poignant, beautiful graphic novel about finding the right words to tell your story. Tién knows he is gay, but he’s not ready for everyone to know it yet until he tells his parents. The thing is, his parents are Vietnamese refugees and they don’t speak English very well. He worries he might not be able to find the right Vietnamese words to tell his parents who he really is. And if he does, will they accept him or will he disappoint them? One way that Tién communicates with his mother is through their shared love of fairytales. Through stories handed down from generation to generation, sometimes the words are easier to find—and expressions of love and acceptance are truly understood. This was a really special story, full of emotion and beauty and identity. It was a terrific mix of fairytale and reality, and it definitely made me think about how much more difficult it could be for people from other cultures to find the words to tell their truths. I'm so glad I read this! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maia

    A beautiful young adult comic which starts out light and then snuck up on me with a rising tide of emotions. Tiến is a first generation American son of Vietnamese immigrants, who wants to come out to his parents as gay, but isn't sure how to say it. He bonds with his mother through their shared love of fairy tales- throughout the book they read several stories to each other which wind through their own family narrative. The narratives of Tatterhood, the Little Mermaid and a Vietnamese version of A beautiful young adult comic which starts out light and then snuck up on me with a rising tide of emotions. Tiến is a first generation American son of Vietnamese immigrants, who wants to come out to his parents as gay, but isn't sure how to say it. He bonds with his mother through their shared love of fairy tales- throughout the book they read several stories to each other which wind through their own family narrative. The narratives of Tatterhood, the Little Mermaid and a Vietnamese version of Cinderella are beautiful illustrated and woven powerfully into the main storyline. Highly recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    4.5 This is a lovely, touching, at times sad, even sometimes brutal (within the fairytales) story of a young American boy in the 90s trying to come out to his Vietnamese parents. It’s elevated by its use of fairytales, especially in how and why these stories and their endings can be and are changed. The different color washes work beautifully to distinguish the different storylines/viewpoints.

  19. 5 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    I absolutely loved this story, and the author's note at the end was brilliant. This is on the level of The Princess and the Dressmaker. The artwork is phenomenal! And that ending! It's so beautiful, and I loved how the stories woven and changed depending on who was telling the story, and how everyone's histories wove together. This is a book about finding a new life, grief, regret, love and family. And the magic of fairy tales to bring people together and connect. I received this ARC from NetGalle I absolutely loved this story, and the author's note at the end was brilliant. This is on the level of The Princess and the Dressmaker. The artwork is phenomenal! And that ending! It's so beautiful, and I loved how the stories woven and changed depending on who was telling the story, and how everyone's histories wove together. This is a book about finding a new life, grief, regret, love and family. And the magic of fairy tales to bring people together and connect. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Prabhjot Kaur

    And there's always more, isn't there? Tiên is a thirteen year old Vietnamese-American boy. Tiên loves reading fairytales with his mother. Tiên is gay but he is struggling with coming out to his family. Tiên's mother is an immigrant in the states and she misses her own mother back home. When she gets a devastating news, she goes back home and re-connects with her stories and roots. This is a very sweet coming-of-age story. I loved the illustrations, diversity and the parallels of the fairytales wi And there's always more, isn't there? Tiên is a thirteen year old Vietnamese-American boy. Tiên loves reading fairytales with his mother. Tiên is gay but he is struggling with coming out to his family. Tiên's mother is an immigrant in the states and she misses her own mother back home. When she gets a devastating news, she goes back home and re-connects with her stories and roots. This is a very sweet coming-of-age story. I loved the illustrations, diversity and the parallels of the fairytales with Tiên and Tiên's mother's stories. I did however think that there was a lot going on and the focus kept on shifting on the fairytales rather than the present day story so maybe somethings could have been taken out but otherwise I really enjoyed this. 3.75 stars

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    4.5/5 Stars This graphic novel was so well done, you guys! As a reader, I could truly see how much thought went into this project and it's just something amazing in my opinion. This story tackles so many different themes that one might feel overwhelmed, but it's all done so beautifully and seamlessly that it just perfectly works. I love the fact that this book is a LGBT story and that Tiến is trying to find the words to come out to his parents. The author also explores the theme of immigration fro 4.5/5 Stars This graphic novel was so well done, you guys! As a reader, I could truly see how much thought went into this project and it's just something amazing in my opinion. This story tackles so many different themes that one might feel overwhelmed, but it's all done so beautifully and seamlessly that it just perfectly works. I love the fact that this book is a LGBT story and that Tiến is trying to find the words to come out to his parents. The author also explores the theme of immigration from several angles and every single one of them is treated with such care. Moreover, the fairytale aspect was so interesting, I really liked how the author blended different versions of them and included them in the main storyline. I also really liked the art style, it was just my cup of tea. I'm so very looking forward to reading more by Trung Le Nguyen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    A Vietnamese American family in the 1990s tells fairy tales to each other to practice their English, but the tales have parallels to the daily struggles in their life, especially for the 13-year-old son boy coming to terms with his sexual identity and fighting the fear he feels when he thinks of telling his parents. The fairy tales are so well told and illustrated that they actually distracted from the main story and sometimes failed to fully connect with it. And as fairy tales are wont to do, th A Vietnamese American family in the 1990s tells fairy tales to each other to practice their English, but the tales have parallels to the daily struggles in their life, especially for the 13-year-old son boy coming to terms with his sexual identity and fighting the fear he feels when he thinks of telling his parents. The fairy tales are so well told and illustrated that they actually distracted from the main story and sometimes failed to fully connect with it. And as fairy tales are wont to do, they get pretty macabre and gory. Between the boy's story, the mom's own storyline regarding her mother, and the fairy tales, the book feels overstuffed. But even if all the elements do not totally jell, the book is beautiful and engaging.

  23. 4 out of 5

    michelle (magical reads)

    rep: ownvoices gay Vietnamese-American protagonist, Vietnamese main character and side characters this was gorgeous and poignant and I'm tearing up now :'))) rep: ownvoices gay Vietnamese-American protagonist, Vietnamese main character and side characters this was gorgeous and poignant and I'm tearing up now :')))

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tiash .

    "It’s an old, old story. Details change. Things change. And now this story is ours. Yours and mine." I have no words for it. Magic Fish is stunning both in terms of story and art. It burnt my soul. I'm a better person now. Sorry I'm still recovering. Will do a detailed update soon. "It’s an old, old story. Details change. Things change. And now this story is ours. Yours and mine." I have no words for it. Magic Fish is stunning both in terms of story and art. It burnt my soul. I'm a better person now. Sorry I'm still recovering. Will do a detailed update soon.

  25. 4 out of 5

    aarya

    This is wonderful. Tears streamed down my face near the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Teal

    DNF @ 50% This attempted to jam too much into too small a package -- too many stories, too many POVs -- and I lost patience with it. Thirteen-year old Tiên gets a POV, his mother gets a POV, plus there's a storyline for the fairy tale the characters are reading together. I dislike fairy tales in general, so I started skimming that one; next I started skimming the mother's story; then I finally admitted I felt no urge to keep going with Tiên's story either, fragmented as it was between the other s DNF @ 50% This attempted to jam too much into too small a package -- too many stories, too many POVs -- and I lost patience with it. Thirteen-year old Tiên gets a POV, his mother gets a POV, plus there's a storyline for the fairy tale the characters are reading together. I dislike fairy tales in general, so I started skimming that one; next I started skimming the mother's story; then I finally admitted I felt no urge to keep going with Tiên's story either, fragmented as it was between the other stories. Although I'm sure this will be a special book for the right person, to my disappointment that person was not me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    4.5 stars. Rounding up because it's so beautiful. I picked this up for the artwork and really loved the story too. I'm not a huge fan of fairy tales but how they're used here was lovely. 4.5 stars. Rounding up because it's so beautiful. I picked this up for the artwork and really loved the story too. I'm not a huge fan of fairy tales but how they're used here was lovely.

  28. 5 out of 5

    dezzy

    4 stars. now i understand why people read graphic novels to get out of reading slumps.....they're so easy and quick to get through, i practically flew through these pages This is the first graphic novel I've read in practically 2 years, and I'm so so glad I finally picked this one up!! The Magic Fish is such a beautiful, heartwarming, and wholesome graphic novel, it gave me alllll the feels <3 This was a queer coming out story, but it was also so much more than that - it was about fairy tales, the 4 stars. now i understand why people read graphic novels to get out of reading slumps.....they're so easy and quick to get through, i practically flew through these pages This is the first graphic novel I've read in practically 2 years, and I'm so so glad I finally picked this one up!! The Magic Fish is such a beautiful, heartwarming, and wholesome graphic novel, it gave me alllll the feels <3 This was a queer coming out story, but it was also so much more than that - it was about fairy tales, the immigrant experience, and love (in all its forms). I loved Tiến and his mother's relationship so much, and the way they communicated and expressed love for each other (in a combination of Vietnamese and English) reminded me of the way I talk with my mom (for me, it's a mixture of Cantonese and English haha). The ending made me tear up ahhhh. I also adored the art style, it was so gorgeous and satisfying and flowy, perfect for the fairy tales 💕 I loved the use of color in distinguishing among the past, the present, and the fairy tales! I definitely recommend this graphic novel if you're looking for an emotional read that is sure to tug at your heartstrings :') love truly is a universal language, and fairy tales + stories transcend all language barriers <3

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeann (Happy Indulgence)

    Such a beautiful graphic novel about fairy tales, second generation immigrants, coming out and struggling to connect with your parents due to language. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and I loved the parallel story lines here when it came to the fairy tales that were shared (most unexpectedly dark and haunting) and coping with emotions in reality. I loved how some of the fairytales were new and others familiar, but illustrated with Vietnamese clothing and ornaments to add to the story Such a beautiful graphic novel about fairy tales, second generation immigrants, coming out and struggling to connect with your parents due to language. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and I loved the parallel story lines here when it came to the fairy tales that were shared (most unexpectedly dark and haunting) and coping with emotions in reality. I loved how some of the fairytales were new and others familiar, but illustrated with Vietnamese clothing and ornaments to add to the story's setting. It just felt so magical. The Vietnamese characters are fantastic and you can see the differences between Tiến and his mum, from their upbringing, struggles and the way they approach their family. While they undoubtedly love each other, they're constrained by the lack of language with mixed English/Vietnamese along with his mother coping with a sick parent back in Vietnam. Check out Happy Indulgence Books for more reviews!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    A boy and his mother read together, comparing versions of the tales, relating them to their own lives in various ways. Lovely and sensitive illustrations. Just fyi the characters are meant to be older than they look -- I was confused at first when romance came up because I thought they were kids (I also initially thought the mother was his step-sister or au pair).

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