First Second. Sept. 2019. 224p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250183873; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250183880.
Gr 3-6–With her surreal drawings, her penchant for bright nail polish, her lax study habits, and her inability to speak Chinese, Moon Li is nothing like the other kids in her Chinese American community. And she couldn’t be more different from perfectionist Christine Hong. But when Christine’s parents rent a property to Moon and her mother, who are having trouble making ends meet, it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Free-spirited Moon fascinates Christine. However, when Moon tells Christine that she has visions of celestial beings who will one day take her with them to the skies, where she’ll finally fit in, Christine realizes that her new pal’s confidence masks pain. And when Moon starts to connect with other classmates, Christine’s own insecurities threaten their bond. Relying on a muted palette and careful linework, Eisner Award nominee Wang has crafted an understated, poignant tale of the joy and turmoil of budding friendship. She artfully laces her narrative with questions about identity as Christine and Moon quietly wonder about what it means to belong to a community. Though Wang doesn’t provide pat answers, her characters do manage to carve out a place for themselves.
VERDICT With this spot-on glimpse into the emotional landscape of tweens, Wang joins the ranks of middle grade masters Shannon Hale, Raina Telgemeier, and Cece Bell

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