The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Tien and his mother may come from different cultures—she’s an immigrant from Vietnam still struggling with English; he’s been raised in America—but through the fairy tales he checks out from the local library, those differences are erased.
But as much as Tien’s mother’s English continues to improve as he reads her tales of love, loss, and travel across distant shores, there’s one conversation that still eludes him—how to come out to her and his father. Is there even a way to explain what he’s going through in Vietnamese? And without a way to reveal his hidden self, how will his parents ever accept him?
The Magic Fish was a beautiful graphic novel that featured an amazing story and amazing artwork by Trung Le Nguyen. The combination of the stories that the characters would be reading/telling and the current main plot was stunningly executed and created a beautiful parallel between past stories and the present. This story covered very real topics and showing the struggle between the language barrier of Tien and his parents added a whole other depth to the story. When while reading this graphic novel, I couldn’t help but stop and admire the artwork. Everything was created with such grace and emotion and honestly, Trung Le Nguyen is truly just a talented person. I also think that another reason why this novel’s story was portrayed so well, was because it was a graphic novel. The story could’ve been written as a normal book, but being able to see the transitions from the main plot to stories being told was beautiful. I feel like if this were not a graphic novel, the transitions wouldn’t have been as smooth and you wouldn’t have been able to bounce back and forth from stories to the main plot like intended.
This novel was mainly focussed around Tien’s story and struggles, but seeing his mom’s story as well was another good part of this novel. His mom went through a lot and had to make a life out of nothing so she could raise her son and family, and seeing glimpes of her life was amazing.
Another thing that I absolutely loved about this novel was that each character had such a beautiful design. This is yet another tip of the hat toward’s Trung Le Nguyen’s skills. Everyone was so unique and you could tell that a lot of attention went towards them. I especially loved the clothes design for the character from the fairytales. The dresses that were drawn for the princesses in the stories told were absolutely stunning and completely took away my breath.
In conclusion, The Magic Fish is a beautiful novel and shares a very real story that touches your heart. Everything from the dialogue to the art style was perfect and I enjoyed this novel so much. I 100% would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a touching story incorporated in a graphic novel.
The cover art and illustrations are by Trung Le Nguyen.
- Have you read The Magic Fish?
- If so, did you enjoy it?
- Do you enjoy reading graphic novels?
- Do you have any graphic novel recommendations?