New Release Thursday – Mall Goth by Kate Leth



Mall Goth by Kate Leth is something I knew I wanted to read the moment I saw it online. I was like, yes, finally, a book for me. I, too, was a mall goth. Tried to be, anyway, back when we had Hot Topic. Anyway…

Though this graphic novel is set in the mid-2000s (when I was a teenager), it has a lot to say about issues and problems teens still face today in 2023. As mentioned above Mall Goth is set in the mid-2000s. Bear with me if you’re young here, but this was the time of dramatic usernames on AIM (AOL instant messenger), hanging out at the mall, and needing to use your parent’s flip phone to call someone because you didn’t have your own phone. iPhones weren’t even a thing yet! It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and Liv, our gothy main character, is simultaneously living through both.

Liv is a goth girl in a decidedly ungoth world. After leaving her old school due to bullying, she attends a new school and meets some nice goth kids who play video games like she does. She’s also bisexual, which was another target for bullying. Thankfully, her new friends don’t care about that, and everything is fine until some very confusing teenage hormones get in the way. This Mall Goth: 9781534476950: Leth, Kate, Leth, Kate, Sousa, Diana,  Crank, Robin: Booksphic novel is so much more than it seems on the surface. On the surface, it looks like a fun story about a goth girl who hangs out at a mall with her friends, when in reality, this is a layered story about what it means to be a lonely teen girl.


A good portion of this book is about inappropriate relationships with teachers. The author mentions this in a note at the beginning of the book, so it doesn’t come as a surprise, but it was still upsetting to see the progression of tis relationship. Not upsetting in the sense that I couldn’t read it, but upsetting in the sense that this kind of thing still happens all the time. Liv’s English teacher takes an interest in her at the beginning of the school year. At first, it’s normal student-teacher stuff, but then it evolves into Liv and her teacher talking outside of school. Liv gets very involved in this online relationship and eventually goes to her teacher’s house to see him, only to find out that he’s married to his pregnant wife. This destroys Liv because she was groomed by her teacher to believe that he loved her and they were going to be together.

None of this is told in graphic detail and the story mainly focuses on Liv and her feelings about what happens. It is entirely age appropriate and would make for a great discussion about why it isn’t okay for teachers to get that involved with their underage students. Aside from this plot thread, there is another side story about Liv deciding whether or not she wants to be with her friend Jake, but that story is wrapped up nicely toward the end and the novel becomes a story that’s less about romantic relationships and more about friendship. A quick note about the art is that it’s easily accessible and the words on the page are nice and big. There also aren’t too many words on the page, either, which would make this graphic novel perfect for reluctant teen readers.

You can check out Mall Goth at the Oreana Library today!

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