Local 12-year-old author’s debut novel covers cancer, friendships and being an ‘undercover genius’

Muirlands Middle School student Liv Blu Kyle, 12, shows her book "Via LaVie and the Friendship Code."
(Scott Kyle)

She’s just 12 years old, but La Jollan Liv Blu Kyle has already collected a series of achievements: She beat cancer, learned coding, is on her way to being bilingual and published her first book in March.

To celebrate the latest feather in her cap, the Muirlands Middle School student will sign and sell copies of “Via LaVie and the Friendship Code,” a fiction novel based loosely on her own experiences, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at Warwick’s bookstore, 7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla.

The book, designed for young readers, is 220 pages with 22 illustrations — all done by Liv.

The book follows the life of Via LaVie, a fifth-grade cancer survivor and an “undercover genius” with a photographic memory. The book follows Via on her journey through a cancer diagnosis, the mysterious disappearance of her grandmother, the challenges of navigating friendships and more.

“With my cancer and Via’s cancer, it was nice to create a character that related to me,” Liv said. But she made sure that Via’s cancer was different from what Liv conquered.

When Liv was 6, she was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor (the most common type of kidney cancer in children) on her left kidney that was the size of a softball when it was removed.

“Cancer is never good, but I was grateful to have a type that is manageable and controllable,” Liv said. “It shaped my perspective on living life to the fullest. I’m happy to have had friends that helped me in that time. I’m fully healed, and it was a big step in my life that helped me grow.”

As to how she maintained a positive attitude, she said “there is no good age for cancer, but since I was 6, I could understand what was going on, but I didn’t have such a pessimistic outlook on it because I was so young. Everyone around me thought of it as another step in life, and having people be so kind and supportive helped me a lot.”

In “Via LaVie and the Friendship Code,” Via is diagnosed with brain cancer and wonders if it or the chemotherapy is bolstering her intelligence.

An underlying message of the book is the importance of friendships and support. “Having people around me when I was in treatment was so amazing,” Liv said. “Via has friends that supported her and together they built new friendships, so the book talks about how friendships can be of help even when you are not in a time of need.”

“Cancer is never good, but I was grateful to have a type that is manageable and controllable. It shaped my perspective on living life to the fullest.”

— Liv Blu Kyle

Liv co-authored the book with her father, Scott Kyle, and children’s book author Karyn Langhorne.

Scott has written other books, “so writing is in the genes” he joked. He said Liv has been writing short stories since third grade.

“I approached her in 2020 as COVID was hitting and asked if she wanted to write a book together,” he said. “The premise was a smart young girl, just like Liv, and we created this whole world.”

Liv said the finished product is “for enjoyment and entertainment, like most books should be, but I hope those that read it have a moment of sparking interest. Via loves science and languages, so if someone reads the book and decides to explore a new language or a type of science, that would be great.”

Liv also is into those things, learning computer coding at The Coder School and studying Chinese language.

“I also hope they take on a different perspective on friendships and how the different types of intelligence are important,” Liv said.

Liv and Scott are already writing a sequel to the book that chronicles Via’s foray into middle school. Liv said she also plans to continue writing “outside the world of Via” and explore other interests.

“Via LaVie and the Friendship Code” is available for purchase at ◆


2:27 p.m. Sept. 26, 2022: This article was updated with additional information and to correct that the book sequel covers Via going into middle school.