Tag: Debbie Tung

Review – Everything is OK

Posted May 13, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review – Everything is OK

Everything is OK

by Debbie Tung

Genres: Graphic Novels, Memoir, Non-fiction
Pages: 184
Rating: two-stars

Everything Is OK is the story of Debbie Tung’s struggle with anxiety and her experience with depression. She shares what it’s like navigating life, overthinking every possible worst-case scenario, and constantly feeling like all hope is lost.

The book explores her journey to understanding the importance of mental health in her day-to-day life and how she learns to embrace the highs and lows when things feel out of control. Debbie opens up about deeply personal issues and the winding road to recovery, discovers the value of self-love, and rebuilds a more mindful relationship with her mental health.

In this graphic memoir, Debbie aims to provide positive and comforting messages to anyone who is facing similar difficulties or is just trying to get through a tough time in life. She hopes to encourage readers to be kinder to themselves, to know that they are not alone, and that it’s okay to be vulnerable because they are not defined by their mental health struggles. The dark clouds won’t be there forever. Everything will turn out all right.

Debbie Tung’s Everything is OK is a journey through the artist’s experience of depression and anxiety, interspersed with one-page spreads illustrating various “inspirational” phrases and hints about dealing with anxiety and depression. Her art is cute, and she makes good use of colour to bring across the right moods.

I don’t want to critique someone else’s journey with mental health problems. And I’m sure there are people who’ve found this uplifting and helpful in their own journey — many of the things she says are good sense.

What it isn’t is a handbook to recovery from anxiety and depression, even though at times it’s phrased as general advice to everyone. For anyone whose situation is different or very complex, though, it risks coming across just as hackeyed and tone-deaf as the voices Tung depicts as bringing her down (people who say “just get over it”, “you’re doing this for attention”, etc). It’s no universal panacea, and there are many people for whom basic therapy doesn’t help, or doesn’t help enough. The journey she depicts in this book is an incredibly lucky one — which is great for her, but isn’t the answer to all the mental health problems in quite the way that some reviewers think. Just as it’s not as simple as “pull yourself together”, it’s also not as simple as “stop criticising yourself and learn to live with your flaws”.

Which, to be scrupulously fair, Tung doesn’t say — but nor does she really address it. The book does mention different journeys, but it doesn’t touch on the absolute depths. I wouldn’t give this to someone to help them “understand” depression, because it can’t do that job. I’d give it to Debbie Tung’s friends and family, to help them understand her depression and anxiety, and if someone identifies with the picture of depression in these pages, no doubt it can be useful in the same way. But please, for the love of chickens, don’t give it out as a general instruction book, please.

Rating: 2/5

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Review – Book Love

Posted April 7, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 3 Comments

Review – Book Love

Book Love

by Debbie Tung

Genres: Graphic Novels, Non-fiction
Pages: 136
Rating: three-stars

Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers. And paperbacks! And ebooks!And bookstores! And libraries!

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung's comics are humorous and instantly recognizable--making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they're understood and appreciated.

Debbie Tung’s Book Love is an easy enough read which blithely presents a certain picture of what it is to love books. There are definitely pages I relate to — like the one where she’s in the middle of one book, can’t wait to start a new one, and just lets herself read the introduction… which leads to reading the whole thing.

On the other hand, I feel like she leans into a particular sort of loving books where it’s as much an aesthetic as anything, to the point of being an affectation, and one that I think has become ever more popular because of phenomena like “bookstagram”, where half the time people want books to take pictures of them (hence, probably, the page where she insists on returning a movie edition of the book, and hence definitely the page about checking out book-related social media to “inspire” you to read more).

I’m not immune from the aesthetics of books, to be clear. A flat or a house isn’t a home to me until I’ve brought my books in, and I continue to love reading dead-tree books even as I adore my sleek and comfortable ereader. I love getting new books, and I love the smell of books. But I don’t get so precious about it: I’m fine with lending books or giving books away, with reading the movie tie-in edition, with being less conscious all the time of being a person who reads, and my ereader is a constant companion even though it doesn’t look as bookish.

Sure, I knew going in that this one would be all about books, but it’s suspiciously full of bookshops, coffee shops and fairylights too, and that grates a bit.

Rating: 3/5

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