The American Dream?

A Journey on Route 66 Discovering Dinosaur Statues, Muffler Men, and the Perfect Breakfast Burrito

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

As a child growing up in Malaysia, Shing Yin Khor had two very different ideas of what “America” meant. The first looked a lot like Hollywood, full of beautiful people, sunlight, and freeways. The second looked more like The Grapes of Wrath—a nightmare landscape filled with impoverished people, broken-down cars, barren landscapes, and broken dreams. This book chronicles Shing’s solo journey (small adventure-dog included) along the iconic Route 66, beginning in Santa Monica and ending up Chicago. What begins as a road trip ends up as something more like a pilgrimage in search of an American landscape that seems forever shifting and forever out of place.

Format Your Price
Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, Young Adult
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity
Copyright 2019
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Zest Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 160
Publication Date 2019-08-06
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS YAN057000, YAN012010, YAN006020
Dewey 917.804/34
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.25
Lexile 970
ATOS Reading Level 5.1
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 510126
Accelerated Reader® Points 1.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews


  • Excellence in Graphic Literature Award YA Nonfiction, Nominated, 2020
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2020
  • NPR Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2019



“Khor takes that ‘feeling of desperately searching for something better, for a new start,’ and adapts it to their own ‘pilgrimage’ as immigrant and artist traveling historic Route 66 . . . in whimsical full-color detail.”—starred, Booklist

School Library Journal

“This beautiful memoir raises thoughtful questions about what it means to be American.”—School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“An informative graphic travel journal that offers important perspectives on being an immigrant and American identity.”—Kirkus Reviews

Greg Pak

“A lovely, deceptively simple road trip memoir that revels in quirky discovery and quiet adventure while grappling with the anger and longing of one immigrant’s experience.”—Greg Pak, comic book writer

Carol L. Tilley

“Just like Shing in real life, The American Dream? is quirky, honest, captivating, and filled with recollections of weird roadside statues.”—Carol L. Tilley, comics historian and information science professor at the University of Illinois

Kristina Wong

“Shing Yin Khor’s debut graphic memoir The American Dream? is the critical antidote to the whitewashed narratives of the great American road trip.”—Kristina Wong, performance artist and activist

Author: Shing Yin Khor

Shing Yin Khor is a cartoonist and installation artist exploring personal narrative, new human rituals, and collaborative worldbuilding through graphic memoir and large scale art structures, and creating comics at the intersection of race, gender, immigrant stories, and queerness. They make the road trip adventure comic Tiny Adventure Journal, the tender queer science fiction comic Center for Otherworld Science, and is also the author of The American Dream?. They live in Los Angeles.