Mall Goth

S. & S. Sept. 2023. 256p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781534476950.
Gr 8 Up–Liv and her mom move to suburban Harbour City where teen social life is centered around the mall. Liv is looking forward to starting over since her goth persona and bisexuality made her a target for bullies at her old school. Readers follow Liv over four months as she tries to adjust to her new town and school. She keeps her guard up, but still connects with other like-minded classmates over video games. Liv’s trust is repeatedly tested and broken by a boy who may or may not still be with his girlfriend, Liv’s absent and unreliable father, and a teacher who crosses a line. Eventually, Liv finds community and support in a group of friends she can open up to and trust. This graphic novel addresses issues of manipulation, shifting friendships, and family relationships, but does so in a fairly understated way. Although the story is relatable, the characters aren’t especially well-developed, making it harder for readers to connect with them. The art’s spiky design and limited palette of subdued colors are consistent with the story and work well to communicate Liv’s discomfort, her cold surroundings, and the overall Goth tone. Most characters are cued as white.
VERDICT Though the book deals with issues familiar to many teens, it lacks character development and a sharp enough look at the situations it addresses.

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