Book Review: Stargazing by Jen Wang

April 17th, 2021 by

In a recent post, I reviewed a book where a new girl arrives in town and becomes fast friends with the main character (The Only Black Girls in Town). Well, today I’m reviewing another book where the same thing happens — this time, in graphic novel form!

In Stargazing by Jen Wang, Moon and her mom move into the apartment attached to Christine’s family’s backyard. The two girls are both Asian-American, but otherwise they seem like complete opposites: Christine is on the quiet side and worries about fitting in, whereas Moon is a boisterous, confident, free spirit. But even so, Moon and Christine become best friends. Soon, they’re hanging out together all the time — until their bond is tested in a couple different ways…

For more details about the story, check out this official book trailer, which also gives a sense of the illustration style:

I also wanted to share a couple of my favorite pages, which feature a vegetarian version of dan dan mian, a delicious Chinese noodle dish that I loved as a kid. Since I stopped eating pork when I was in middle school, a long time went by before I got to enjoy dan dan mian again — until a few years ago when my friend shared a vegetarian recipe that replaces the meat with mushrooms. Imagine my surprise and delight to see Moon’s family eating their dan dan mian the same way that I do!

As a Chinese-American myself, I also identified with the characters in other ways — like dealing with the judgement of who qualifies as “Asian” enough. But you definitely don’t need to be Asian or Asian-American in order to enjoy this book. I bet every reader will relate to Christine and Moon’s experience in some way, especially some of the friend drama that happens with their classmates.

Do you have a book (graphic novel or otherwise) that you feel captures your experience in certain ways? Please share in the comments below!

— Karen

This morning, Karen woke up thinking about the yummy fried chicken drumsticks that her family used to take out from a Chinese place nearby, back when she was a kid. Maybe this book is inspiring Karen’s subconscious to revisit all her childhood culinary treats! Like dim sum, rice porridge with pickles, white sugar sponge cake, mango juice boxes… om nom nom nom…

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