Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying

Valerie Chu is quiet, studious, and above all, thin. No one, not even her best friend Jordan, knows that she has been binging and purging for years. But when tragedy strikes, Val finds herself taking a good, hard look at her priorities, her choices, and her own body. The path to happiness may lead her away from her hometown and her mother’s toxic projections–but first she will have to find the strength to seek help.

Hungry Ghost is a tale of love, loss, mental health and obsession. Victoria poured aspects of her life into this story, as she said in her afterword Val is not me, but I was her. This is a beautifully told and illustrated graphic novel, I saw parts of myself in Val, trying to cope with the loss of a parent and it gave me a deeper understanding of people suffering with disordered eating and dysfunctional relationships. For all the heavy topics contained within, there is also a thread of hope woven throughout the story which leavens what could have been an otherwise grim and heartbreaking story. Safe to say for all the sadness, Hungry Ghost left me in a happy state, with renewed hope – and that is one of the things I hope for in the books I read these days!

Hungry Ghost handles the topics of eating disorders, loss and acceptance sensitively and with nuance giving insight for those wishing to know more and, hopefully, providing visibility to those thinking they are suffering alone . This will be an important addition to any collection and perfect for readers looking for works on mental health.

Hungry Ghost is written and illustrated by Victoria Ying and is published by First Second Books. It is out today.

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