By Jen Wang
(For readers in Third Grade–Seventh Grade)
Jen Wang uses her own life as inspiration for Stargazing. Christine, Yang’s surrogate, is a Chinese American teenager living in a suburb populated primarily by her culture. As Christine tackles school and the violin, she is also figuring out how to be herself. Christine’s parents decide to rent out the in-law apartment to a mother and daughter in the community, Christine befriends the daughter, Moon, who is outgoing, loves K-Pop, drawing, and dancing. Christine is immediately taken with Moon’s creative world and it opens doors giving her new outlooks. As Moon and Christine become closer friends, real life challenges take their friendship to different heights!
Jen Wang perfectly weaves together panels that do not have any text to further emphasize the emotional effect of the story. Wang depicts American Chinese culture with honesty: Christine has Chinese lessons with her mother every Wednesday, is not supposed to color her toenails, and has to stay focused on her school work. Moon represents an Asian who has embraced American culture: doesn’t attend Chinese class, is a vegetarian, loves music and drawing, and believes herself to be a celestial being. This story is about identity and what it means to be true to oneself.
This is a great new graphic novel that all middle readers will enjoy. It will speak to any child who struggles to fit in.