Published by Candlewick Press on September 8th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Graphic Novel, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.
All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort.
Maggie is fifteen and at the summer camp that she goes to every single year. She’s just one of the many girls who attend the camp and she tries to blend in as much as she can. But this year, she’s discovered a new hobby… and a newfound interest in an older counselor of the camp. A girl counselor, who makes her feel confused about her feelings and who she is.
What I enjoyed most about this graphic memoir was the honesty and how relatable the story and Maggie was. Because it’s based on true events and memories from the author and illustrator’s life, it felt very realistic. From the drama of being surrounded by a hundred girls every single day and the hesitance and doubts that come with new crushes, I could imagine myself going through the exact same events. The constant worry that they don’t feel the same way about you, the uncertainty about what the next acceptable step is, and the constant hiding and inaction were all things that I’ve experienced myself. And it wasn’t only the romance in the book that was relatable – the portrayal of a teenage girl’s everyday life was so realistic and easy to connect with. I’ve been that same girl who’s found a new passion and hobby that she’s good at only to have other people call her a show-off. It was just a really truthful and heartfelt story that I think anybody can relate to, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. I’m a little bit disappointed with the way that it ended but this is real life and not everything is going to end cleanly and be fully resolved… because life goes on.
But I wasn’t thinking of that at the time. I wasn’t thinking of anything. It’s just this mythological desire you have to suddenly – to be unrecognizable to yourself.
I thought the characters in this book were wonderful, which feels like a bit of a strange thing to say considering they’re based on real people. But I thought the way that they were portrayed was fantastic and I liked how much of their personalities Maggie Thrash allowed us to see. I felt such a deep connection to Maggie, the protagonist, because I got to see all of her vulnerabilities and insecurities and I’m grateful that the author shared so much of her past with us. I enjoyed her love interest, Erin, as well as they connection and chemistry that the two had together. I also thought Maggie’s best friend, Bethany, was perfect and I loved their friendship and how much Bethany supported Maggie. And I also really liked some of the other minor characters, like Maggie’s brother, Drew.
The art style in this book was great. It was very minimalist and clean, with big panels, which made it very easy to read and follow along. The illustrations weren’t busy and full of detail and that was something that I really liked because it allowed me to really focus on the story and not on all the little things distracting me in the background. I also appreciated that each character had a distinct look and it was easy to tell who was who at a glance. The simplistic art style and the beautiful colours that were used in all of the illustrations made it a feast for the eyes.
If you’re looking for something relatable and accessible that you can read in just one sitting, Honor Girl is the book for you. It has beautiful illustrations, and a beautiful and heartwarming story that you won’t be able to let go of.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for providing a review copy.
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