Stars in their eyes by Jessica Walton and Aska

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This is a graphic novel with a 14-year-old central character, Maisie, who is not defined by her disability as a post-cancer amputee, but who lives with the adjustments that this brings to her life. She has also recently identified as queer. Her single mother has bought tickets to a Fancon event which includes a feisty character from her favourite show, and Maisie is excited to see another high-profile amputee. When she arrives, she meets 15-year-old Ollie and instantly connects. Ollie’s pronouns of preference are they/them and they both bond over a mutual love of Comic-Con favourites. Long conversations and a first kiss follow, but there is no immediate happily-ever-after for them, as they live in different states.

With clever commentary from the perspective of someone with a visible disability and who also identifies as queer as well as battling with pain and anxiety, this graphic novel is a quick insight and journey of empathy. The world of the Comic-con community is also entertaining. The author has cleverly woven some well-known Fan favourites with some tweaked references (eg ‘Bader’ reveals he’s ‘Duke’s’ father, and the Time Doctor). If the intention of the author (who is also a queer amputee) was to see representation in literature of young people with disabilities or who are queer, she has succeeded. This could be added to a library’s LGBTIQ collection. There are also some lovely moments with Maisie and her mother, revealing the dilemmas of teenage life and the humour of their relationship. Illustrations are complementary to the text and display slightly comedic aspects.

Recommended for readers, aged 13+. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: LGBTIQ, Disability, Comic-Con/Fancon, Friendship, Discrimination, Anxiety, Graphic novel.

Carolyn Hull