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Living With Viola

Interest Age: 9–12
Grade: 4–7
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: RL.6.1,2,3,4,5,6,9

Reading Level: Lexile HL310L
Hardcover : 9781773215488, 272 pages, November 2021 , 8.0" x 6.0"
Paperback : 9781773215495, 272 pages, November 2021 , 8.0" x 6.0"
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781773215501, 272 pages, October 2021


“Unforgettable . . . will shake middle grade readers to the core.”—School Library Journal, starred review

Beautifully illustrated, relatable, and genuine. —Molly Brooks, creator of Sanity & Tallulah

“Everyone needs to buy this book now.  Seriously. Buy it, read it, share it.”—Colleen Nelson, author and teacher

Honest and funny, this award-winning 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 judgement, 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.


  • Joint winner, New York Public Library’s Best Books List 2021
  • Joint winner, School Library Journal’s Best Books List 2021
  • Joint winner, Best of 2021 List, Canadian Children’s Book Centre 2021
  • Joint winner, Best Books of 2021, Kirkus Reviews 2021
  • Joint winner, Best Bets Book List, OLA 2021
  • Nominated, Black-Eyed Susan Book Award 2022
  • Nominated, Panda Book Awards 2022
  • Joint winner, Bank Street College of Education’s Book of the Year List 2022
  • Joint winner, USBBY Outstanding International Books List 2022
  • Commended, Graphic Novel Diversity Award Honor Book, VLA 2022
  • Joint winner, New York Public Library Vibrant Voices Titles for Kids 2022
  • Nominated, Silver Birch Award, OLA 2022
  • Joint winner, IBBY Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities 2022
  • Joint winner, Texas Library Association’s Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List 2023
  • Short-listed, Jean Little First-Novel Award, Canadian Children 2022
  • Nominated, Garden State Teen Book Award 2023
  • Commended, Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award Honour Book 2023


"Beautifully illustrated, relatable, and genuine."

- Molly Brooks, creator of Sanity & Tallulah

"Heartfelt and fun, Living with Viola is going to mean a lot to an awful lot of kids."

- Eleanor Davis, creator of Stinky, and You & a Bike & a Road

“Living with Viola is an insightful peek into the mind of an anxious young person (and her overbearing imaginary twin), told with both compassion and humor. Livy is a character with whom many readers will identify, and even more will empathize, as they accompany her on her journey through school, friendship, and family. Delightful."

- Lisa Brown, creator of The Phantom Twin

"How does one exist when everything appears to be against us, especially ourselves? Through this beautifully drawn, and at turns funny and heart wrenching story, Livy finds her way. Rosena Fung's deeply moving and empowering book is sure to enter the kids' Graphic Medicine canon."

- Fiona Smyth, creator of Sex Is A Funny Word (with Cory Silverberg), Somnambulance

"Living with Viola is an explosion of colours and emotions Rosena Fung has artfully woven into a heartbreakingly familiar tale many of her readers will feel in their bones. I’ll be tucking this important read onto my bookshelf to share with my own child so she can see how words can wound, even, maybe especially, when you turn them on yourself."

- Britt Wilson, author of Ghost Queen, and Cat Dad, King of the Goblins

“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

“A keenly felt and nuanced look at anxiety disorder.”

- The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 10/21

“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

“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

“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 unique book exploring culture and mental health in kids.”

- City Parent Magazine, 11/21

“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

“Hard to do better than this book. . . . Smart, empathetic, and hopeful.”

- Teen Librarian Toolbox, 11/29/21

“An honest and hopeful depiction of life with mental illness.”

- Canadian Children’s Book News, 12/21