THE MASK | Kirkus Reviews
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 30, 2021
Do you have a voice in your head telling you to doubt your self-worth?
Enter Chinese Canadian Olivia Siu Leen Tong. She loves art, books, and making dumplings with her mom, but she struggles with being carefree and happy like her peers. Even harder, her parents enroll her in a new, better middle school, where she struggles to make friends. As immigrants from Hong Kong, her parents have sacrificed so much to give her opportunities, but with this come high expectations to be the perfect daughter. All the pressure causes her self-doubt to manifest as Viola, a shadowy version of herself. Viola spews insidious, undermining messages, causing Livy to fall into depression and have panic attacks. Although she finally makes some good friends and even starts enjoying school, Viola lurks in the back of Livy’s mind and sabotages her at every turn. As her life starts unraveling, she must decide whether to reveal her secrets and ask for help. In a debut inspired by her own life, Fung uses bold illustrations in warm shades of red and orange; whenever Viola appears, the palette darkens to purples and grays as swirling, negative thought bubbles overwhelm Livy like waves. Fung delicately balances the heavy subject matter of mental health issues, microaggressions, identity, cultural differences, and belonging with humor and heart.
Elevates the graphic novel genre with its heartfelt focus on mental health and immigrant experiences.
(author’s note, Cantonese glossary, character sketches)
(Graphic fiction. 9-13)
Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Annick Press
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021
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