ARC Reviews


“Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic… and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.

When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.

But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?”

Stargazing is one of those books that I would love to hand to every kid in the world. And every adult, for that matter. This charming story about friendship, feeling alone in the world and defining who we are is a wonder of nostalgia and something that feels so original. I’m a huge fan of Jen Wang and she did not disappoint. One of my first reviews was another graphic novel by Jen Wang, The Prince and The Dressmaker, and I cannot recommend either of these books highly enough.

There are so many good things to say about this book that I don’t know where to start. The characters are real and relatable, their problems and fears are important and I felt their falls and victories like they were mine. Wang does an incredible job of bringing her own experiences and authenticity to Stargazing and it pays off in spades.

I loved so many things about Stargazing. Particularly, I loved the unique perspective that Moon brings to the story and the journey she undergoes. Though not for the same reasons, I too felt that I didn’t belong here as a child, that I was secretly from somewhere else and might one day go back there, where it all made sense and I fit. I felt her loneliness at learning that she is a child of this earth the way that we all are. I felt her loneliness at learning that some of us are always going to be looking upwards, looking for something fantastic, no matter how grown up we become.

Christine, the other primary character in Stargazing, takes us on a different but just as valuable story, in trying to figure out how she’s supposed to be. From painting her nails, to the music she listens to, to her values and the friends she chooses, Christine is at an age where we all asked ourselves so many of these same questions. Do I fit in? Do I have to be who my parents/community/expectations tell me to be? Do I like who I am? Who do I want to be? Her journey was so relatable, especially so for those living in a community like Christine’s where she feels there is a “right” and “rewarded” way to be, like everyone else.

I was so excited when I requested this ARC from Netgalley, and so lucky to have gotten my hands on it. Jen Wang has impressed me again with this beautiful, sweet, whole-hearted story of two new friends trying to find their way in the world. Stargazing is about friendship, forgiveness, and feeling otherworldly, but its also a powerful story of growing up. To anyone who has felt alone, that they don’t belong, or that there might be something greater waiting for them, don’t miss out on Stargazing. You won’t regret it.

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This one hits shelves on September 10, 2019!

“We can’t change the past. But we can learn from the way we hurt the ones we love, and try to do better.”


The Prince and The Dressmaker

“My whole life is other people deciding what’s acceptable. When I put on a dress, I get to decide what’s silly.”

Prince Sebastian is feeling the pressure to find a bride. His parents think it will a great step on his way to become the king they know he will be someday, but Sebastian only wants one thing— to be himself, and to be loved anyway.

When Sebastian meets Frances it feels like fate; she needs a job and he needs a dressmaker, and a friend, who he can confide in. She makes a retinue of extraordinary gowns for him that any woman would dream of and, at night, he gets to wear them out into town as the beautiful Lady Crystallia.

However, as Crystallia’s fashion gains attention throughout the country, Frances begins to feel her dreams of something greater starting to fade under the weight of secrecy. Both she and Sebastian must make a choice about how much of their lives they truly want to be hidden, who they want to be, and untangle their feelings for each other along the way.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is not only now one of my favorite books, it is an absolute delight.

It makes me infinitely happy that this book even exists, let alone that it’s so good. I read this in one sitting and I couldn’t have stopped if I tried. For someone who usually reads darker fare, I was surprised at how quickly this adventure swept me up. I was further surprised that a graphic novel, a format I didn’t read much of until last year, was one of my favorites of the year. I couldn’t count the number of people I’ve recommended this to…

Jen Wang does a spectacular job. Not only is the story bright, funny, and colorful, but so are the characters and the illustrations. Frances and Sebastian are relatable and easy to love, and I was more and more happy to root for them as I got to know them better. Their friendship, maybe more, is the true gem within this story. Which is saying something, considering that the rest is excellent too.

Wang’s illustrations are colorful and simple, a perfect mirror and complement to her writing style. The story itself is simple, but in the best way that allows the reader to focus instead on all of the ruffles, sequins, and pins of the story. Literally, and metaphorically. Flipping through The Prince and the Dressmaker is like putting on a pair of rose-tinted glasses and I never wanted to take them off.

By the end, especially after the (truly) iconic climax, I was happy, satisfied, and my heart was so full. On bad days, I will pull out this book and read it again and again, remembering that there are beautiful and wonderful things in the people around us, and ourselves.

“When I first learned the truth, I thought Sebastian’s life would be ruined. But seeing you, I realized everything would be fine. Because someone still loved him.”