“Stargazing,” the latest graphic novel from author-illustrator Jen Wang, is the charming, heartfelt story of two Chinese American girls and their unlikely friendship. The story centers on the studious and quiet Christine, and her growing friendship with Moon, the new girl next door. Though initially thought of as a little strange, Moon takes her new school by storm and wins over Christine and her classmates. Moon is creative, free-spirited, and confident- everything Christine wishes she could be. But Moon has a secret: she has visions of celestial beings who claim that Moon isn’t from Earth at all and that she will one day return to her home in the stars.
Through expressive artwork and carefully crafted dialogue, Wang perfectly captures the feelings of being a kid and trying to find your place in the world. The story is made all the more authentic by Wang’s personal experiences growing up as an Asian American girl, her feelings of otherness within her own community, and her struggle with the same health issues that affect Moon throughout the novel. Wang’s experiences add a level of realism to the story that allows readers to relate to Christine and Moon on a more personal level. I think that’s what makes “Stargazing” so endearing- it’s not hard for any reader to see a part of themselves in these two girls. They have fun, make mistakes, battle with guilt, and learn to forgive, just as we all do at some point in our lives.
“Stargazing” is an instantly lovable story I found hard to put down. I flew through the book in one sitting before flipping to the beginning to start again. “Stargazing” is perfect for fans of Wang’s previous graphic novels, “In Real Life” and “The Prince and the Dressmaker,” as well as Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright’s “Twins,” all of which follow young protagonists discovering who they are and where they belong. Though aimed at a middle-grade audience, this book is for readers of all ages who have felt the joys and anxieties of navigating a budding friendship. “Stargazing” is a lovely reminder that the things that make us different are the very things that can ultimately bring us together.