Goodreads: Positively Izzy
Series: companion book to Invisible Emmie
Publication Date: 2018
Izzy has difficulty paying attention in school, but comes alive on the stage. Brianna is known as “the Brain” by her classmates, but fears the spotlight. Their stories intertwine as they both try to survive middle school.
Positively Izzy will likely confuse readers as intertwining stories typically comment upon each other. In this case, however, a contrast between a girl who loves to be on the stage and one who fears it does little to add to the story; it merely emphasizes that different people have different personalities and enjoy different things (which readers already know). Only at the very end does it become clear why the author chose to tell two stories instead of one. Making an entire book rely on the reveal on the final page is, however, risky. Some readers will love the surprise and others will be frustrated.
Positively Izzy starts out by promisingly by rejecting the premise of the first book, which focuses on Brianna’s friend Emmie. Emmie’s story, Invisible Emmie, repeats the Diary of a Wimpy Kid formula, creating humor by mocking middle school stereotypes like the “weird” kid, the kid with acne, the kid with a math “disability.” Seeing the ostensibly “sweet” Emmie make fun of her classmates in her journal is sickening; it makes her very much like the bullies she complains about. Brianna, however, begins by saying how she hates labels. Accordingly, she does not label any other classmates “weird” or anything else.
The rest of the book is a sympathetic look at growing up, dealing with family dynamics, trying to fit in, and making new friends. Fans of Roller Girl, Smile, and Real Friends will find another satisfying graphic novel about the middle school experience in Positively Izzy. It may not break new ground, but it is another reassurance that, yes, someone out there does understand what it is like.