Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American (2022)


After spending her early years in Wuhan, China, riding water buffalos and devouring stinky tofu, Laura immigrates to Texas, where her hometown is as foreign as Mars—at least until 2020, when COVID-19 makes Wuhan a household name.

In Messy Roots, Laura illustrates her coming-of-age as the girl who simply wants to make the basketball team, escape Chinese school, and figure out why girls make her heart flutter.

Insightful, original, and hilarious, toggling seamlessly between past and present, China and America, Gao’s debut is a tour de force of graphic storytelling.

From: HarperCollins

Notes on This Title

This title is a memoir by a queer Chinese author who uses she/they pronouns. They are shown as a child, a teen, and an adult over the course of the story.

The expression of anti-Asian sentiments is depicted.

Portions of the dialog are in Chinese, but the primary language of the book is English.




Starred Review: “A multidimensional, thoroughly entertaining account of growing into queer Asian American identity.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)

“A nuanced representation of being Asian and transnational in the contemporary U.S.” (Source: Kirkus Reviews)

“The roots are messy indeed, but the tree blossoming from them is brilliant.” (Source: New York Journal of Books)


Kirkus: “From Wuhan to America: A Cartoonist’s Story

Overachiever: “Interview with Laura Gao

We Need Diverse Books: “Q&A With Laura Gao, Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American

Leave a Comment