Book Review – The Dark Matter of Mona Starr

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr
by Laura Lee Gulledge
(Amulet Paperbacks, 2020)

At a Glance


Young Adult Contemporary

Age Range:


Plot Summary:

“Sometimes, the world is too much for Mona Starr. She’s sweet, geeky, and creative, but it’s hard for her to make friends and connect with other people, and her depression seems to take on a vivid, concrete form. She calls it her Matter.

“The Matter seems to be everywhere, telling Mona she’s not good enough and that everyone around her wishes she’d go away. But with therapy, art, writing, and the persistence of a few good friends, Mona starts to understand her Matter and how she can turn her fears into strengths.” (source)


  • Heartfelt and relatable
  • Beautifully illustrated
  • Excellent back matter

Full Review

I hadn’t heard of this graphic novel before I saw it displayed at the library. I am definitely happy that I picked it up. The story is heartfelt and touches on topics that I think many teens will be able to relate to.

My ten year old daughter enjoys Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels, and this book hits on many similar themes, but feels slightly more sophisticated and mature. There is nothing here that would be inappropriate for a tween, but I feel like it delves a little deeper. My daughter is reading this right now and is enjoying it as well.

Laura Lee Gulledge’s black and white illustrations are gorgeous. There was so much detail and I liked how she portrayed Mona Starr’s anxiety and depression as a physical entity throughout.

I also thought it was awesome that Gulledge includes a bit of back matter about what helped her work through her own depression and anxiety. She even includes a blank worksheet that the reader could copy and work through to identify some way to practice mindfulness and self care.

Final Verdict

If you’re a fan of Raina Telegmeier’s graphic novels, I would highly recommend this book!

Shop the book above and support me and local Indies:

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge

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