Cover Image: Living With Viola

Living With Viola

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Member Reviews

Beautifully written and illustrated graphic novel about being proud of who you are. Perfect for all ages and is really geared towards a middle grade audience.
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Living With Viola has some of the best mental health representation for young readers that I have ever seen. The book follows Livy, a ten year old whose anxiety manifests in the form of a ghostly, monstrous version of herself.. Its a super effective portrayal, and one that all readers can connect to. Also relatable is the main character's journey with new friendships., parental pressure and cultural difference. The main character is Chinese-American and grapples with accepting this.. One of the highlights of this story, is Livy's struggle between her new friends and her culture. This combined with the excellent anxiety rep makes this a great read for all my middle schoolers. A lot of my students can benefit from reading, and I'm excited to add it to our collection.
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This new graphic novel depicts what it is like to live with anxiety. Viola is Livy's anxiety and negative self-talk personified. In many of the panels Viola is overwhelming Livy until she feels like she is drowning in a sea of negativity. No doubt so many readers will relate to Livy's predicament. Hopefully if they have not yet asked a parent or trusted adult for help, this book may at least plant a seed for future relief. Loved the glossary at the end. All the descriptions of the Chinese food made me quite hungry. Not a huge fan of the style of illustration, so not a five-star read. I will be recommending this one to readers at my library for sure. Will be popular with fans of Ver Brosgol, Cece Bell, and Jen Wang. 

Thank you to Annick Press and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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Living with Viola by Rosena Fung is a middle grade graphic novel about Livy whose parents are Chinese immigrants. Livy is struggling with fitting in at school and making friends. She also has many expectations put on her by herself, her parents and her peers. The book illustrates and personifies Livy's anxiety by creating a character named Viola. In the book Viola makes Livy stressed, anxious and miserable. Throughout the book, Livy's life is getting more and more complex with school, friendship troubles, and family expectations all piling up. Through dealing with these never ending conflicts and stresses, she learns how to cope with her anxiety and learns valuable lessons about herself. 

I really enjoyed this book! The entire book reads fairly quickly and the illustrations are very colorful. Livy is a relatable character and the conflicts she deals with are very real, making for a very realistic book. I really liked the author's use of illustrations to visualize Livy's anxiety. The creativity behind the composition of the pictures really enhanced the reading experience and helped me connect with Livy's story more. 

Overall, this book was really well done. Although the plot itself isn't something very new, the way the story is told through illustrations and plot made the story come alive and become a new reading experience. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you so much to @netgalley and @annickpress for an e-ARC. All my opinions are my own.
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A coming of age story that effectively illustrates  the young character's struggle with anxiety. The illustrations are colorful, clearly convey emotion, and move the story along. I loved the intersectional characters and the way the author highlighted the differences in characters that many would expect to have similar lived experiences. The author's personal experiences added to the story and this would be a great book for any young person who struggles with anxiety or for those who may be trying to understand what it feels like for others.
Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the ARC of this book.
TW: Panic attacks, paralyzing anxiety
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I received a free advanced e-copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

Living With Viola is about middle grade, Chinese Canadian girl, Who is struggling with anxiety and who she is and who her family is. 
I read this with my daughter who is the same age as the main character of this book. My daughter liked that it talks about having self doubt in yourself, having anxiety and not feeling confident in who you are and having an inner saboteur.  (which my daughter feels like she herself is struggling at this age).  This book is really helpful for kids who have anxiety or feel isolated in school, it helps them know that they are not alone and that there are other kids out there who have the same struggles as they do, and all will be OK at the end.
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Livy has trouble fitting in as the new girl at school, and she's very Chinese. Tensions rise for Livy at school and at home as she struggles to manage her life. Plus, Viola, Livy's anxiety, speaks louder and more frequently. Only when Livy learns how to ask for help and face her anxiety does she finally figure out living with Viola and discover the beauty that is her life.
I appreciate the beautiful illustrations in this book. Also, the author balances showing and telling with plenty of dialogue that supports the story. I would like to see more useful ways to manage anxiety. For example, consulting a doctor is important, but there's not much information about breathing, mindfulness, using tactile tools, and other practical strategies.
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Living with Viola by Rosena Fung is a middle-grade graphic novel, about a young girl of immigrant parents trying to fit in at school and life in general. This was a cute, fun read. Thank you to NetGalley and Annick Press for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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I cried because of this book!
Which I believe is the highest compliment.

Even though I am an immigrant and not the child of an immigrant and many of our experiences were different, the few that were the same echoed within my heart and just made me want to protect Livy. I know all about the voice inside and the doubt, pain, and expectation put on a child or assumed.

Being a kid is so brilliant and terrifying, and things switch every generation, and it's so hard. I hope everyone reads this book because it holds a piece to help everyone. In the end, we are all lost or a little worried and knowing others have or do feel the same can help.
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This is a marvelous book - perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Svetlana Chmakova, and Victoria Jamieson. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is heartbreaking without being heavy-handed (and has some funny parts). 

The panels with Viola’s voice swirling around and wrapping Livy up and crushing her are such a perfect depiction of anxiety and depression, and Livy’s experience as a child of immigrants, trying to find her place in the world will be relatable to a lot of readers. 

It’s wonderful that depictions of mental health struggles are becoming available for younger kids. Highly recommended for elementary/middle school — or anyone!
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Livy is a Chinese girl living in Canada who suffers from anxiety. Viola is her anxiety come to life basically as a shadowed twin of herself. I really enjoyed this book. As an adult with anxiety, I understood exactly how Livy felt. My daughter suffers from anxiety as well so im going to be preordering this book for her.
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This is the book I needed as a young girl. There needs to be more books normalizing and explaining mental health issues to kids.
👏👏👏"You can't always believe everything you think about yourself"👏👏👏
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While many kids struggle with anxiety, for Livy it even has a name - Viola.  Viola is always there, creating doubt and holding her back.  And while the outside world can't see her, for Livy she is there and larger than life.  The format of a graphic novel is the perfect medium for kids to see the reality for Livy and the reality for everyone else.  Fung gives such a vivid picture of what it is like to be a kid living with anxiety.  Far too many kids will see themselves in this book, and many more will be able to empathize with it.  Fung perfectly captures the voice of a child, and shows the nuances of a loving family that creates pressure for a child.
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I enjoyed reading this book. I think it is a good book for younger readers to learn about/recognize anxiety. It didn't blow my socks off, but I do think its target audience will enjoy it. I would recommend it for people who enjoyed Real Friends and Guts.
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This was a fun middle grade graphic novel covering the topic of anxiety in preteens. Livy has a lot of pressure on her from her Chinese family and that matched the stresses of middle school cause Livy to doubt herself and her passions. I appreciated the way the roll of family and parents were portrayed in this story as well as the realistic portrayal of immigrant families and the challenges they face. Overall a great addition to any middle grader's graphic novel collection.
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Anxiety is all-too-real, and this graphic book portrays this quite beautifully. I loved Livy's growth and transition to a more confident girl who becomes more comfortable with herself and even with Viola, her anxiety, 'whom' she's learned to control quite well.
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I got an ARC of this book.

So this was compared to Lumberjanes in the description and if you know me then you know how much I love Lumberjanes. That being said, that comparison is a big reason why this book lost a star. They are drastically different books and the only comparison that I can see is they are both middle grade graphic novels. The “wacky humor” that was promised did not materialize. There were multiple fart jokes, but that is not the humor of Lumberjanes.

I started reading this book at about 2 am one morning during a loud thunderstorm while I was being held against my will next to a very loud speaker playing EDM to sooth my terrified chiweenie (if I turned off the EDM she would wake up and start panicking and turns out I can’t sleep through EDM which is the only music that works to sooth her). SO I was in a weird place and thought a graphic novel would be the perfect fit. It only seemed more fitting that it was about anxiety. While Livy had a different sort of anxiety than either my chiweenie or I have, I appreciated the depiction. Having the anxiety be a physical manifestation makes it easier for kids to understand if they don’t experience anxiety and is a lovely graphic novel thing I love. Give me these big feelings like this and I get hooked.

I loved that Livy’s experiences with anxiety were taken seriously by her family. I love that some of her anxiety triggers were her family, some were friends, some were racism, and some were things that weren’t big things like having a lot of pink on her poster. I love that the mix was everything from a small detail to something huge. It showed that anxiety doesn’t always make sense and sometimes anxiety makes a ton of sense. I love how there were some tips on how to handle anxiety and that Livy gets some peace.

I didn’t like that the racism was pretty much left alone for most of the book. It was never called out as racist, instead Livy finally says that she loves her food and the way it smells. She doesn’t say that her friend is being racist and needs to stop. I wish it was more point blank.

I enjoyed the art and I loved that Livy was an artist. I love how her art was shown in the story and felt like it would have been hers. It was just a little detail that I enjoyed.
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Fantastic middle grade graphic novel. Provides a authentic look at mental health in children. Beautifully illustrated.
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Living with Viola is an honest portrayal of what life can be like with generalized anxiety disorder. Livy is a Chinese-Canadian girl who just transferred to a new school. She faces some stressful situations that everyone that age faces like making new friends, doing well in school, and living up to family expectations.  However, she has a harder time dealing with these situations because of Viola. Viola isn’t Livy’s inner critic, she’s her inner tormentor. A judgmental voice that criticizes her every move and makes Livy second guess every thought and action. This book really was heartbreaking at times. I teared up while reading a few of the scenes because I understood exactly what Livy is going through. The author herself has disclosed that she suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and uses some of her experiences in the story.  I think this is a great book for middle schoolers (possibly even younger) to help them understand what’s normal and what’s not in regards to anxiety. It can help them identify some unhealthy thoughts and hopefully encourage them to reach out for help. 

I can’t comment on the art of the book because my ARC copy did not translate well in e-book format and some of the images were a tad blurry.
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Living with Viola is a new middle grade graphic novel that follows middle schooler Livy, a Chinese Canadian, as she navigates her way through life dealing with school, friends, and family.  Middle school is hard enough, but Livy is in a constant battle with Viola -- her anxiety personified in a figment only she can see and hear.

This is Rosena Fung's debut graphic novel, and she doesn't shy away from taking difficult topics like mental health. As someone who struggles with their own Viola constantly telling them that they are not good enough, this book touched my heart.

The illustrations are exceptionally done. I enjoyed the creativity and detail that was put into each frame.
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