Stargazing by Jen Wang
Published by First Second on September 10th, 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel
“When I said they’re my friends, I meant that. Every so often I get a vision, and I know it’s my friends up there, letting me know I’m not alone.”
I found out about Jen Wang through some booktubers! Several of them had recommended The Prince and the Dressmaker and I ended up reading it for #AsianReadathon earlier this year.
As soon as I finished reading it, I immediately looked her up and found out her next book was coming out in the fall! For once, I wasn’t devastated that I had to wait a long time for an author’s work to come out.
In Stargazing, Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s. Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend — maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and even make plans to enter the school talent show together.
Moon even lets Christine in on her deepest secret: Moon sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t really where she belongs.
But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?
I deeply connected to this story more than Prince. Wang touches upon some very familiar things that many immigrant children go through. Am I Asian enough? Am I a good enough daughter? Am I making my parents proud?
And there are more general topics touched upon, too. Like not feeling like you’re liked by everyone, feeling jealous or guilty, and pushing away good people in your life because of your own selfishness.
But what stood out to me the most was Wang touching upon the fact that sameness of experience makes any deviation from the norm — like Moon — seem weird and not “Asian.”
These are all pretty serious points to bring up in a middle grade graphic novel, but it’s done so successfully here. Stargazing is something that I hope kids get to read and feel seen. I know I wish I had read something like this when I was growing up!
I thought the reveal of why Moon was so “different” to be a bit odd (She’s weird because she came from the stars, and she had visions to prove it).
But I later looked it up and realized it’s semi-autobiographical. Wang had her own near-death experience with a brain tumor as a small child. So I did knock off a star for the reveal and having it come so late in the story when the book is already so short.
But what I did like was that Moon knew she was different and was isolated because of it, but she still reached out and still tried to make friends. She’s fiercely loyal and never wants her friends to feel the pain she feels of being made fun of.
Wang has such a way with storytelling that makes me laugh and smile while also making me want to cry because I’m so overwhelmed with emotions. Even though this is a middle grade graphic novel, I very much enjoyed it. I just wish it was longer!
And I’m still obsessed with Wang’s art style. Actually, I recognize some of the face shapes that I saw in Prince. All her characters are drawn so cute! I love the expressions she gives each person.
I recommend this to anyone looking for a quick and heartfelt #ownvoices story about friendship and differences in the Chinese diaspora. You’ll remember to stay weird and that being different amongst your peer group is perfectly fine!