Boxers & Saints

Source: Common Sense Media

Parents need to know that Boxers & Saints is a set of two graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese), the first graphic novelist to be a finalist for the National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award, among other literary awards and honors. These graphic novels depict China’s Boxer Rebellion from the viewpoints of two teen protagonists. Boxers follows Little Bao, who learns kung-fu fighting techniques and gradually gathers an army of peasants who rebel against foreign missionaries and solidiers. In Saints, a young outcast named Four-Girl, later to become Vibiana, embraces what she thinks of as deviltry but then converts to Christianity. Both characters struggle to do what’s right, but their beliefs put them in direct opposition. Violence plays a major role in the books’ most important scenes: everything from fistfights, shootings, stabbings, sword fights, and a decapitation to setting fire to a church filled with women and children. Author-illustrator Yang often portrays the violence obliquely or uses a cartoony style that softens the impact of bloody scenes.

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