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I Am Not Starfire: 08/12/21

I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki

I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani (Illustrator) is told from the point of view of Mandy, the Goth daughter of Starfire. Her birthday is coming up and college applications will be due soon. Mandy has decided she's had enough of both and just wants the world to stop fucking with her.

There are two big themes at work in this book. The first is the divide that can develop between an immigrant parent and their children. Parents who flee oppressive regimes or situations often don't share their culture with their children, hoping to save their children from the same heartache or to avoid stirring up painful memories. Well meaning intentions can backfire, and do here for Starfire and Mandy.

The second is how awkward it can be growing up the child of a celebrity (or superhero in Mandy's case). There's the unwanted popularity, prying questions, and fans expecting the child to follow in the parents' footsteps. Mandy, who so far hasn't come into any powers of her own, feels that her mother's love hinges on the hope that someday she will get her powers. It doesn't but neither Starfire nor Mandy are very good at articulating their feelings, leaving hurt feelings for both.

Among early reviewers, there's been an obvious, hate-driven campaign to drown out positive reviews with negative ones. Much of it hinges on the fact that Mandy's father is never named (but the artwork makes it obvious, plus previous stories have already established this fact). They also don't like that Mandy isn't drawn thin and sexy. Instead, she's a short, fat, Goth. Mandy being different from her parents is part of the point. Even beautiful and famous parents don't automatically get clones of themselves.

Five stars

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