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Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe

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Gothic fashionista Jess is on a mission to reunite with her estranged biological mother—but is she willing to risk her new friends, cosplay championship, and even her future to do so?

Description

Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs.

Jess was claimed by the state when her biomom’s mental illness made her unstable. While their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem: Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . .

So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.

Additional information

Format

Paperback

Bounced between foster homes since the age of seven, Jessica knows better than to set down roots. Most of the kids at her new Michigan high school think she’s a witch anyway (because, you know, goth). The only one who gives her the time of day is geeky Oscar, who wants to recruit her fashion skills for his amateur cosplay group. But Jess is fine showing off her looks to her Insta fans—until a woman claiming to be her biological mother barges into her DMs. Jess was claimed by the state when her biomom’s mental illness made her unstable. While their relationship is far from traditional, blood ties are hard to break. There’s only one problem: Jess can’t reunite with her mom in New York City without a bunch of paperwork and she worries her social worker will never approve the trip. That’s when she remembers Oscar’s cosplay group, which is aiming for that big convention in New York . . . So, Jess joins Oscar’s team—with every intention of using them to get to her mom. But her plan gets complicated when she discovers that, actually, cosplay is pretty great, and so is having friends. And Oscar, who Jess thought was just a shy nerd, can be as gallant and charming as the heroes he pretends to be. As the big convention draws near, Jess will have to decide whether or not chasing a dream of “family” is worth risking the family she’s built for herself.

Copyright: 2022
Page Count: 352
Trim Size: 5.25 x 8
Rights Territory: Worldwide
Categories:
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Family / Orphans & Foster Homes
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Mental Illness
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Friendship

Lindsay S. Zrull is a former foster teen and current book nerd. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and earned a second Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Harvard Extension. Goth Girl, Queen of the Universe is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @LSZrull.

Reviews and Awards

“Zrull, whose author bio indicates she was herself a foster kid, delves with remarkable grit and heart into many sensitive issues, including mental health and body positivity… These geeks will warm even the coldest, darkest hearts.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Zrull’s debut vulnerably and empathetically celebrates geekdom and connection featuring a goth queen teen who uses her image as a shield against the world.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Zrull’s debut is a beautiful blend of all things cosplay and mental health awareness, with a fiercely independent yet vulnerable heroine whose journey to closure, family, and love is heartbreaking but endearing.” —Booklist

“The comic con setting gives way to pop culture references and cosplay options that are simply fun. The romance, the LARPing, the costumes—it’s a geek’s definition of fun.” —Seattle Book Review

“[T]he diverse cast brings the world of competitive cosplay to a YA audience with humor and heart. Readers who enjoy heartwarming stories of found families like Longo’s What I Carry or Masood’s Sway With Me will love this story of a teen finding her voice and discovering she’s not alone.” —Children’s Literature

A 2023 Junior Library Guild Selection

2023 IPPY Awards Silver Medalist, Best First Book – Juv/YA

Best Children’s Books of 2022 – Bank Street Children’s Book Committee

2023 Moonbeam Awards Bronze Medalist (Young Adult Fiction – General)

Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominee, 2024–2025

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