Being seen for you are is one of the hardest things that a person can go through at any given time. It’s even harder when one parental figure in your life has left, the other has become difficult to connect with, and you’re a teenager to boot. Victoria “Vic” Markam, an art enthusiast whose specialty is graffiti, immediately finds herself in the deep end of trouble when, coupled with all of the above, she gets arrested in chapter one.
Published: 5 April 2017
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing (CN)
Fifteen-year-old Victoria Markham enjoys three things: English class, her signature goth look, and art. It’s just that she tends to do the last one late at night, with spray paint, in public places….
It isn’t long before she’s caught red-handed and forced into community service with a bunch of stereotypes: there’s Rachael, the princess; Russell and Peter, a pair of fist-bumping punks; and Zach, the rich jock Vic is crushing on. The motley crew has to work together to produce a public mural.
On top of all that, Vic’s mother’s boyfriend, the only father figure Vic has ever known and the one who taught her to paint, has left them both. Vic’s mother is still reeling, and her relationship with her daughter strained. She doesn’t understand Vic’s insistence on spiking her hair, piercing her nose and lip, and wearing black clothing and heavy makeup. Vic is convinced her mother doesn’t care enough to find out what’s really behind the get-up.
Tensions run high as Vic tries to figure out who she is: Victoria Markham, or Goth Girl? Sometimes, she finds, there’s more to people than meets the eye.
Rating: 2 Stars
Vic’s voice, the most important as the book is told in first person, was difficult to connect with. While some of the things that she thought were relatable, I felt like on the whole her personality were a reflection of stereotypes of the Goth character rather than a nuanced person. She was also exceedingly judgmental, always making snap assessments of others while also constantly saying how she wanted people to figure out who she was beyond her physical appearance. That was a poor characteristic choice and also another stereotype that I saw in a lot of older books about Goth people. It aged Goth Girl, whatever modern names the author might have dropped like iPhone and Angry Birds.
The secondary characters were not much better. The ones at the community service project (Rachel, Peter, Zach, Russell) blended into the background. Most of what the reader knew about them was the stereotypical description that Vic gave us (princess, jock, & so on). Her hypercritical analysis did nothing to endear me to them. I’m not sure Vic ever learned to look beyond those initial impressions, not really. Oh, there were “lessons learned”, of course, where she overheard a conversation with Rachel and Rachel’s mother and Zach exhibits some behavior that reveals his character, but there’s no depth to this learning. It’s like a list of things that had to happen with no development of those points on the list, a real bare bones effort.
Vic’s relationship with her mother offered some hope of “oomph” but it too fell flat. The bickering, the lack of communication, the secret keeping, it was all stuff that felt tired. The tug-of-war moments that were put forth seemed like the author was trying to make things better, but I think it just highlighted how predictable and tired the relationship was written. This interpretation of familial difficulties didn’t have enough to it that made it interesting.
Plot wise, there wasn’t anything gripping or exciting. It was predictable, straightforward, and had no buildup, no sense of anticipation. The narrative felt like a scripted after school special. Most everyone acted like barely developed dolls that were being pushed around a stage filling out preconceived rolls as opposed to actors bringing those roles to life, making us love them or hate them or yearn to know more about them.
There are better books that outline aspects of Goth Girl‘s story. If the graffiti aspect made you want to pick it up, for example, You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner is a superior example of a teen girl experiencing the consequences of her actions when her tagging art gets her into trouble.
It’s possible that there will still be an audience that will find this book helpful. I would behoove them, however, to think of it as a stepping stone. It’s a primary reader at best, maybe somewhere between middle grade and young adult fiction. Quick, easy, and in all honesty, better set aside for books that have stronger characters and more interesting plots.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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