On a Sunbeam
Book by Tillie Walden
From the New York Public Library:
Tillie Walden made her name in comics when she released Spinning, a memoir of her adolescence working to become a figure skater. Now, she takes her patient, reflective style to an outer-space setting of teenage maintenance workers in On a Sunbeam.
As new recruit Mia joins the team to repair crumbling monuments in the void of space, she has time to reflect on the love and heartbreak that brought her here. Like in Spinning, Walden’s focus is girlhood—its traumas, joys, tenderness, and darkness—binding the emotions of her characters together. But On a Sunbeam differs from most girlhood titles by taking a subtly queer (one might say, non-binary) approach to the subject.
In addition to one prominent non-binary supporting character, Walden’s presentation of girlhood is not an exclusive category, but an emotional range of contradictions. Though most of the characters are cis girls, they embrace queer dispositions, from adopting gender-neutral nicknames (Char, Jules, and Ell) to taking on gender creative and androgynous appearances. At the core of the story is a queer romance, and Walden allows this to permeate the book, presenting a girlhood that is available to everyone and can be felt by anyone.
There are many speculative stories of women-only settings, but Walden has created something special by suggesting gender may mean something very different among a found family of girls who love each other.