|Dark matter of Mona Starr|
Author: Gulledge, Laura Lee
Mona Starr is a highly sensitive person. She's sweet, geeky, and creative, but sometimes, the world just gets to be too much and it's hard for her to feel comfortable in her own skin. For a while, she had a rhythm going: She'd go to therapy, doodle, hang out with her best friend and fellow weirdo Nash, and play her violin. But when Nash moves away, Mona feels alone and doesn't know how to combat that little voice in her head that tells her she's not good enough. Graphic novel format.
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2020 Gr 7 Up—The "creative oddball" in a science-loving family, Mona uses astrophysics-inspired metaphors to understand her mental illness—depression is like a cloud of dark matter surrounding her, or a black hole collapsing in on itself. The Matter, as she calls it, keeps the teen from connecting with others, and sometimes it makes her physically sick. Therapy, together with her art, her writing, and a few determined friends, shows Mona that her most difficult moments can, with effort, become her greatest strengths. The realistic, grayscale art is evocative in its simplicity, with detailed expressions adding depth and occasional bursts of bright yellow turning Mona's black holes into exploding stars as she gains self-worth. An inspired, empathetic storyteller, Gulledge (Page by Paige; Will & Whit) draws from her own experiences using art as an outlet for mental health issues. Though she never flinches from depicting the anguish of depression, she instills readers with hope, too, through a self-care plan and chapter headings that also offer advice ("Notice Your Patterns," "Draw It Out," "Break Your Cycles"). VERDICT This immersive portrayal of a sensitive teen learning to live with mental illness will earn nods of recognition from readers coping with anxiety or depression but will also resonate with young people facing any fear.—Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/15/2020 Mona lives with crippling depression and anxiety. Because the dark emotions that fill her chest feel elemental and expansive, she names them her “Matter,” which can manifest as a black hole or fog or take on a ghostlike form. But no matter what she calls it, her mental illness keeps her from fully engaging with the world around her. Therapy helps and, through various techniques like meditation, recognizing behavior patterns, and drawing, Mona slowly begins to reconnect with her friends, family, and the art she loves so much. She even breaks out of her shell and tentatively expands her social circle. Carefully rendered pencil drawings express Mona’s range of emotions, which are heightened by different visual metaphors—walls, trees, outer space, and black shadowy forms all give a literal shape to her Matter. Overlapping panels and dreamlike sequences keep the images flowing in sync with Mona’s inner monologue. Introspective, honest, and hopeful, this is a realistic look at the impacts of mental illness that so many youth experience. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.