Heartbreakingly honest and quietly funny, this graphic novel from a debut creator is a refreshingly real exploration of mental health, cultural differences, and the trials of middle school.
Livy is already having trouble fitting in as the new girl at school—and then there’s Viola. Viola is Livy’s anxiety brought to life, a shadowy twin that only Livy can see or hear. Livy tries to push back against Viola’s relentless judgment, but nothing seems to work until she strikes up new friendships at school. Livy hopes that Viola’s days are numbered. But when tensions arise both at home and at school, Viola rears her head stronger than ever. Only when Livy learns how to ask for help and face her anxiety does she finally figure out living with Viola.
Rosena Fung draws on her own early experiences with anxiety and the pressures of growing up as the child of Chinese immigrant parents to craft a charming, deeply personal story that combines the poignancy of Raina Telgemeier’s Guts with the wacky humor of Lumberjanes. Exuberant, colorful art brings Livy’s rich imaginative world—filled with everything from sentient dumplings to flying unicorns—to life on the page.
- Nominated, Texas Library Association’s Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List 2021
“Elevates the graphic novel genre with its heartfelt focus on mental health and immigrant experiences. ”- Kirkus Reviews, *starred review, 07/27/21
“This is a rich, moving, multimodal reading experience . . . LIVING WITH VIOLA is a major middle-grade graphic novel debut that explores Fung’s weighty themes deftly and with nuance. This is a wonderful book that young readers and grown-up graphic novel aficionados will both appreciate and love. ”- Quill & Quire, *starred review, 09/21
“A poignant and candid exploration of cultural differences and mental health. ”- CM Reviews, 09/24/21
“This dynamically illustrated graphic novel takes the reader into the inner workings of Livy’s mind and life. One cannot help but cheer for Livy as she slowly overcomes her anxiety and finally breaks free from the negative and destructive voice of Viola. ”- School Library Connection, 11/21
“Fung presents her affecting debut in vibrant, full-color panels overflowing with energy and motion. ”- Booklist, 11/22
“A keenly felt and nuanced look at anxiety disorder. ”- The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 10/21
“Livy’s culturally specific concerns, including her family’s reluctance to discuss mental health, will resonate with diasporic readers, though the exceptionally poignant moments that arise from her work navigating her anxiety reinforce the importance of asking for help for any reader. ”- Publishers Weekly, *starred review, 10/21
“The book’s artwork is excellent, and the text works in flawless partnership with it to convey actions, emotions, and moods. . . . an outstanding graphic novel. ”- Foreword Reviews, *starred review, 01/22
“Intimate and unforgettable . . . This deeply moving graphic novel will shake middle grade readers to the core . . . An essential purchase. ”- School Library Journal, *starred review, 10/21
“Fung successfully strikes a balance in discussing issues of mental health, belonging and cultural differences with engaging illustrations and an interesting story.”- Asian Review of Books, 10/13/21
“A unique book exploring culture and mental health in kids.”- City Parent Magazine, 11/21