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When the moon and stars meet on Earth

Cover of Stargazing
A review of Stargazing by Jen Wang

Moonlight before my bed;
Perhaps frost on the ground; 
Lift my head and see the moon; 
Lower my head and pine for home.*

Moon Lin is a bright falling star crashing into Christine Hong's world. Moon and her single mother move next door to Christine's family and their lives are full of mystery and intrigue. Moon is a free spirit and open and excited about life in a way that reserved Christine admires. Moon believes she is a celestial being. She's also Buddhist, vegetarian, loves K-pop, wears nail polish, and is coordinating a dance routine for the school talent show.  

Christine participates in Chinese study once a week with a group of kids from school, practices her violin each day and signs up for extra math tutoring when she receives a C on one exam. She has a tight-knit family and Chinese social group that is compassionate and supportive but they are not cool or outgoing in the way that Moon is. The two girls make a perfect pairing and their friendship is easy and fun. Then something terrible happens to shake up the universe.

A devastating event forces Christine to face up to her actions and fears. She receives sound life advice from her dad that it's impossible to change the past but we can learn from the way we hurt the ones we love and try to do better. It's easy to blame yourself or others for bad things that happen but sometimes it's nobody's fault. The galaxy comes together in Stargazing to share a story of true friendship told in a way that is thoughtful and ready for discussion.

Readers familiar with Wang's work may recognize a hint of Prince Sebastian from The Prince and the Dressmaker in the caring and kind teacher Mr. Pennypacker.

*Translation of the classical Chinese poem "Quiet Night Thoughts" written by the Tang Dynasty scholar Li Bai about looking at the moon during the autumn festival. People spend time with their families on this holiday and he feels homesick. There is a wondrous scene in Stargazing when Christine's mom leads the Chinese class in reading this poem aloud while Moon sneaks off to do her own thing.

Nov 11, 2019