Stargazing by Jen Wang: the review

Stargazing by Jen Wang: the review

Stargazing by Jen Wang

How to deal with the differences, the fears, the perception that others have of us, if not with the help of a great friendship? From BAO Publishing, another small, big pearl of comics that warms the heart and makes us feel like children again, with a story so intense that it teaches us to be better adults too. This is Stargazing, the work created by Jen Wang published on 10 September: this tells the story of Christine, a young woman who does not think she is extroverted and expansive enough, until she meets Moon, weaving with her a solid bond of friendship that it will teach her to express herself without fear.

A story of friendship and courage, a training mini-story written by Jen Wang who draws on this subject from some autobiographical events. We reveal Stargazing here, in the next few lines.

Stargazing: the plot

Christine is a girl in the early years of high school who plays the violin in the small orchestra of the parish. school and, in general, tends not to get noticed by others and obey parents. When she sees Moon for the first time, the other kids warn her about her: the one over there is a troublemaker and was kicked out of her previous school for beating up a classmate. Moon and her mother, however, find themselves in trouble because of financial straits, so Christine's parents have an idea: to give them a place to live at a good price, by renting the small house adjacent to their now disused from. when the grandfather is gone.

Although Christine is at first rather fearful, once she meets Moon she discovers in her everything she has always wanted to be: outgoing, full of life and creativity, courageous enough to always say what she thinks or even to put the nail polish in spite of the young age. Moon and Christine become great friends despite their respective differences, both temperament and cultural, but Moon seems to be different from anyone else: in fact, she confides in Christine to see her lunar friends, celestial creatures that populate the Moon, or Moon's real home. . Christine is perplexed and at one time fascinated by her friend's singularity, but what appears to be covered in stardust hides a hard and sad truth that will take everyone by surprise and jeopardize the friendship between Moon and Christine.

Childhood memories

Hard cover with bright and brilliant colors; pages that flow pleasantly to the touch; drawings in a light and soft way: the first impression with Stargazing is that of being between the pages of a comfortable book, one of those that "hug" you and make you want to read and continue to do so to become almost part of the beautiful story they tell. Jen Wang writes and realizes the drawings of her Stargazing (whose colors are applied instead by Lark Pien), drawing from the direct experiences of her childhood, as we learn from the last pages of the comic in which there is an afterword: in doing so it brings the reader in an engaging story that makes you feel like children again. However, we must not stumble into the error of believing that Stargazing is childish, lacking in thickness or frivolous: Jen Wang's book is reassuring, encouraging, it speaks to us of a young and fresh friendship, however this is not without small or large rocks. to overcome with maturity, and even when it seems that Moon's fantasies may be true, real life comes cruel to impose itself with unwanted surprises.

Jen Wang's merit is knowing how to keep us glued to Stargazing talking to each other with simplicity through what could be called a small emotional coming-of-age story, which concerns the protagonists as much as we do. Moon and Christine on the one hand, students who, through their mutual differences, learn to approach others in a different way, with the surrounding reality, even with themselves. From their bond they learn something more from time to time, discovering how important it is to express their individuality and desires, but also how essential it is to ensure that this happens with respect for others. Christine, for example, discovers that Moon and her mother are Buddhists and therefore vegetarians, learning to appreciate the food prepared in respect of other small lives. And then we are on the other side, faced with one of those friendships capable of changing people for the better, that we can not help but learn in turn to be better people and more attentive to the sensitivity of others.

As mentioned, there is nothing childish about Stargazing: although Jen Wang's book is clearly aimed at a young audience, it does not get lost in trivial topics and does not try to gild the pill, causing the protagonists to encounter problems that would unbalance their lives for a while, even questioning the perception they had had up to that moment of their own identity. It is above all this part that draws inspiration from a fact that really happened in the author's life, and it is also the moment in which the emotion aroused by the continuing friendship between Moon and Christine reaches its peak. A flight of the imagination which, although clashing with reality, is not affected by its cruelty, but provides a further opportunity for growth, affection and solidarity. A story that, in short, is good for the heart and making us children again also makes us some of the best adults.

A little, big pearl

BAO Publishing is a true source of comics precious and unforgettable: Stargazing is not far behind, another pearl that becomes part of the BAO family, counting among those works full of intensity and emotion of which the publishing house has made its flagships. Small, because Stargazing is a short volume, with thick pages (at the end of the volume the type of paper used is also indicated, in a tradition now consolidated by this publisher), and perhaps for this reason the wish would be to read a sequel, of continue reading the stories about Moon and Christine and follow them in their friendship and their growth. Great for its ability, in a small space, to say something, to leave a positive message, to mark the mind of the reader albeit with tenderness and tact.

It is a book that , albeit in its simplicity, it is not afraid of breaking the habits. The illustrations have soft shapes, roundness that characterize both the characters and the environments. The colors, curated by Lark Pien, are pastels applied, however, in a decisive and uniform way, giving a lot of prominence to the faces of the characters. What breaks with the comic book tradition of “boxing” the figures into closed boxes is the presence of the protagonists outside them, in spaces where song lyrics, dance steps, celestial creatures unfold. It is a device that creates strong dynamism, gives movement, whether it is that of the bodies intent on dancing or that of thoughts left at full speed.

Stargazing is a sort of Alice in Wonderland , where Moon is Alice intent on dreaming of bizarre characters and enchanting places; unlike the latter, however, which always leaves us suspended between believing that her Wonderland is a real place and the doubt that it is pure and simple imagination, Moon faces the reality of the facts together with her new friend Christine. It is a story of courage and fortitude, but above all of friendship, of respect for the differences and needs of others, of self-determination. It is a pleasure to browse Jen Wang's Stargazing and even more so to read it to the end.

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