Saturday, September 14, 2019

Book Review: Stargazing by Jen Wang

Wow, this is different from Jen's previous book, The Prince and the Dressmaker!

Christine is a good girl. She does everything her parents want, including taking Chinese lessons after school. When Moon and her mom move into their garage apartment, her parents push her to befriend Moon, who is strange. Soon Moon has introduced Christine to all kinds of fun stuff like painting your nails and K-Pop (a couple of side effects her parents didn't see coming and aren't thrilled about.) But when Moon goes from being the weird girl at school, to becoming popular, Christine gets jealous and does something she regrets. Then Moon has a crisis which changes everything.

I loved this story of two different ways to "be Asian" and about first rebelling as kids get older, and starting to figure out who you are and what you like aside from your parents. It's also about making friends, even if they're weird, and then the odd, hard realization that you need to share your friends.

Finally, there's Moon's health crisis. I was shocked in reading the author's note at the end, to discover the same thing had happened to Ms. Wang. I then was fascinated by her decision to tell the story not through the eyes of Moon, but her friend. For Ms. Wang to have somewhat based this story on her own life--but not to make herself the central character is an interesting decision.

Everything felt very real and relatable, even though I grew up very differently. Some parts of childhood and maturing are universal.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by First Second, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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