Book Review: My Best Friend is a Wookiee
By Jeffery Cox
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Tony Pacitti’s coming of age story will be familiar to those who were raised on Star Wars. If you can remember a time before the prequels, and count it as a formative influence on your life, you’re probably one of the people I’m talking about.
MY BEST FRIEND IS A WOOKIEE is a peek at the psychology of the average Star Wars fan, albeit, a funny one. Tony is able to represent himself as the archetype and as his experiences unfold, a fanboy can’t help but identify with them. The ups and downs of his adolescence are aptly contrasted against the series.
Firstly, the holy trilogy: the original three films. Those movies did the same thing for him as they did for a lot of sci-fi nerds. They provided a refuge when times were tough and an appealing escape from the confusing realities of childhood. The good guys were good and the bad guys were just bad, there was the light side and the dark. Easy peasy.
Back when A NEW HOPE was just STAR WARS, Tony was figuring out who he was. In his own heroic journey, he dealt with the same issues most kids face. His antagonists wear more mundane shapes than those in a galaxy far, far away. There is an overreacting teenage transsexual as opposed to a horned and tattooed Sith lord and a narrow minded English teacher instead of a plotting chancellor, but Tony stepped up to them. Even while insecure and untested, he shows the one thing required in the hero of any story, courage.
The tone, of course, changes when the prequels come out. After manning up for a rebel alliance tattoo, Tony sees episode one. The stages of grief follow, but are tripped up by the second and third installments. Tony’s final challenge on his heroic journey is to accept and find a purpose for the prequels in his life. It’s a bigger battle than it sounds. This, along with a defining relationship in his life, makes him a man.
Tony gives a voice to the pre-prequel generation. They will never see Star Wars as a series of six films but as two trilogies. Future fans will think of it in the same vein as the Harry Potter movies, as in “Just hang in there to the forth one and it really gets good.” For those who came before, the saga was a little more special for being incomplete. Like the epic of Gilgamesh, we only found so many tablets, but a great story right? That era is over, but Tony’s testament validates the feeling.
What MY BEST FRIEND IS A WOOKIEE delivers is a bit more that than a love of a movie series, it’s a mature appreciation of the life experience, good and bad. Tony throws off the self-stigmatizing that many sci-fi fans experience by fully embracing his inner geek. He becomes someone to respect, a Star Wars fan with balls. Because, admit it, you kinda wanted to get that Mandalorian bounty hunter tattoo, even if you didn’t go through with it.
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