|Living with Viola|
Author: Fung, Rosena
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. In graphic novel format.
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2021 Gr 4–8—Olivia "Livy" Siu Leen Tong, a new student at Alison Berry Middle School, is achingly lonely. She has new friends, but they tease her for eating fried rice and salty fish, and she wonders what they'd say if they knew her father is a janitor and that she carries a stuffed unicorn in her backpack. At home Livy tries to be a dutiful Chinese daughter, but after her relatives visit from Hong Kong, the weight of their expectations almost crushes her, and she fears that her dream to become an artist would disappoint her family, much like her cousin Leonard's mysterious moods, which resulted in him being sent to England. Stuck in her head, Livy struggles with feelings of anxiety, fear, and unworthiness that manifest themselves as Viola, an evil twin–like figure who affirms her destructive thoughts. This is an intimate and unforgettable work that focuses on themes of belonging and identity. Confronting mental illness in a perceptive, tangible way, Fung offers a visual window into Livy's world; personifying her anxiety allows readers to understand Livy's reality. Tones of reds and purples illustrate Livy's varied emotions, and the crowded speech boxes give the book a suffocating feel. VERDICT This deeply moving graphic novel will shake middle grade readers to the core and have them rooting for Livy. An essential purchase that illuminates the mental health issues with which many young people grapple.—Claire Moore, Manhattan Beach Lib., CA - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/01/2021 When new kid Livy enters middle school, she doesn’t yet have friends, but she’s not exactly alone. Viola, her identical blue shadow no one else can see, never leaves her, but she voices every poisonous thought, insisting Livy is a “total disaster” doomed to be “forever alone.” Viola disdains Livy’s Chinese lunches, dismisses her art, insists she can’t compare to her doctor-to-be cousin, deems her immigrant parents and their home embarrassments. Livy’s sadness overwhelms, but confiding in her parents finally provides much needed hope—and help. Fung presents her affecting debut in vibrant, full-color panels overflowing with energy and motion, not unlike Livy’s attempts to cope alone with destructive Viola. Fung reveals in her author’s note that the story is semi-autobiographical; her acknowledgment of her own panic attacks that started, like Livy’s, in sixth grade, reads like an empathic balm to her intended middle-grade audience that they’re not alone. In a world of growing distancing and isolation, especially for youth, Livy provides a gentle but solid reminder that change and happiness are indeed possible. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.