cover image Mall Goth

Mall Goth

Kate Leth. Simon & Schuster, $22.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7695-0; $14.99 paper ISBN 978-1-5344-7694-3

In 2003, openly bisexual goth girl Liv Holme, 15, is attending high school in Harbour City following a move with her parents, whose relationship is rocky. After a disastrous first impression at school, Liv soon finds people who understand her, including classmates who share her interests and a supportive English teacher, as well as a place to be herself at the mall where her mother works. But things get complicated when her goth friend Jake starts hitting on her despite being in a relationship with Layla, with whom Liv has established a strong friendship. Worse, she’s embarrassed by her new mall job as a store mascot, and her teacher seems to have ulterior motives for his kindness. Leth (the Mysticons series) utilizes an inviting, flat-colored mix of Archie comics styling and ’90s cartoon aesthetics to craft an early aughts, small-town environment brimming with visual jokes and period-authentic fashion. The creator persuasively presents Liv’s struggles with routine issues including bad jobs, crushes, and friendship drama, as well as serious challenges surrounding parental conflict and predatory behavior, with a mixture of humor and solemnity, making for an impassioned graphic novel. Most characters are portrayed with pale skin. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jennifer Linnan, Linnan Literary. (Sept.)