In Return of the Starchild, Iliana, the main character, seeks closure to a part of her identity that has always alluded her – her biological family. What was a small yearning at the beginning of the novel becomes nearly an obsession towards the end. Her need to know where she comes from is very human, it can almost be said to apply to most of us. Origin is an intrinsic part of identity and can act as a hole in the tapestry of our life if it’s missing. The flip side to this of course, is that you are who you choose to become whether that’s reflected in your thoughts, emotions, behaviour or decisions. Your identity is more to do with how you live your life as opposed to where you come from by blood.
It seems to be a matter of life or death for Iliana in the novel if she doesn’t find out who her parents are, or if extended family still exist somewhere. Adopted children who are aware their family are not biologically related to them could feel similar, or have no regard nor interest in finding out where they physically come from. It’s a matter of choice, and boils down to personality and preferences, some which can be deeply personal to the individual.
Whatever identity means to you, whether it’s choice or blood (perhaps both), for Iliana, her blood origins link to her so dramatically that it is impossible for her not be affected by it. We see her hunted and to possess terrifying powers with all kinds of factions grappling to influence and control her.
A question of identity is not answered easily. It’s something to be explored, discovered and lost to be rediscovered later. Life has a way of knocking us down to the point where how we see ourselves is based solely on how others see us which one can argue, is really losing our identity altogether. If you feel all you are is how people see you, could you deep down feel happy and satisfied about that?
Beyond finding lost family or self-identifying with how the world sees you is the yearning notion of wanting to be seen. Truly seen. Perhaps Iliana wants this for herself, and to permanently shed the past in such as way that gives her space for her true self to come forward, and thrive. Isn’t that something worth fighting to have?