Study Guide

American Born Chinese Chapter 5

By Gene Luen Yang

Chapter 5

Jin

  • You know how someone you never noticed before can kind of just sneak up on you? That's what happens to Jin when he finally notices Amelia Harris in the 7th grade.
  • And once he does, he can't get her out of his mind—he can't even hold his books right when he sees her.
  • One day he decides to tell Wei-Chen about his mad crush. Wei-Chen starts to tease him about the crush until Jin shuts him up by pointing out that he's acting like an "F.O.B." (fresh off the boat).
  • Weirdly enough, two weeks later, Wei-Chen starts going out with Suzy Nakamura.
  • Switch scenes: we're now in a science class and the instructor, Mr. Graham, is asking for two student volunteers to look after these live animals who have been loaned to the class.
  • Amelia volunteers, so Wei-Chen tries to get Jin to volunteer too.
  • Jin's not really down for the idea, but Wei-Chen's so pushy that he raises his own hand just to volunteer on Jin's behalf.
  • But Mr. Graham thinks Wei-Chen's volunteering himself, so Wei-Chen finally submits to Mr. Graham and becomes a volunteer.
  • Meanwhile, Wei-Chen kind of thinks Jin's acting like a turtle hiding in its shell.
  • Out in the schoolyard, Jin's having one of those neurotic moments. He's kvetching to Wei-Chen and Suzy about Amelia and whether or not she might have a thing for Greg, that popular blonde, curly-haired guy who once came to Jin's defense.
  • Wei-Chen and Suzy just tease him for being both paranoid and cowardly—oh, and for being a complete klutz around Amelia whenever he's near her.
  • Jin doesn't appreciate their humor. Obviously.
  • But then Timmy (that jerk who once called Jin and Chinese people in general dog eaters) and another white guy walk by and more or less call the three Asian kids "chink," "nippy," and "gook."
  • That shuts all three of them up.
  • While Jin is walking home, he starts thinking about Amelia (again); then his mind switches to Amelia and Greg, finally focusing on just Greg.
  • By the time he gets to his house, he's fixated on the one thing he thinks makes Greg cool: his curly blonde hair.
  • The next day, Jin shows up at school and guess what—he's got a new hairdo. It's basically Greg's hairstyle, but black.
  • Wei-Chen and Suzy are totally confused, but Suzy tells Wei-Chen to be nice since Jin's his best friend.
  • The scene shifts again to the science classroom: Wei-Chen and Amelia are taking care of the animals for Mr. Graham.
  • Wei-Chen goes hunting in the closet for some mice and Amelia goes to help him. Unfortunately, she closes the door on both of them and locks them into the closet accidentally.
  • Time passes and Amelia's frustrated, but Wei-Chen tells her that he's supposed to meet Jin after school, so he thinks that Jin will figure out where they are and get them out.
  • That gives Amelia the opportunity to ask about Jin, which gives Wei-Chen the opportunity to pump Jin up in Amelia's eyes.
  • But it's not just that—Wei-Chen is actually really heartfelt about how thankful he is for Jin. He tells Amelia about how Jin, for a long time, was his only friend and how Jin helped him adjust to American culture when he first arrived in town.
  • Finally Amelia asks Wei-Chen the most important question: Does Jin like her? To which Wei-Chen tells her to ask him herself.
  • All the while, Jin is outside waiting for Wei-Chen. And just like Wei-Chen says, Jin figures out where Wei-Chen is and convinces the janitor to open the biology room in exchange for an hour of trash duty and some orange freeze from the cafeteria.
  • When Jin sees Wei-Chen and Amelia in the closet, things become a blur for him.
  • He does remember, however, Wei-Chen nudging him to seize the opportunity, so Jin manages to ask Amelia out on a date.
  • Amelia says yes.
  • And that's all Jin can think of at night, in bed.