Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

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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 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.

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Published: September 8th 2015 by Candlewick Press

Source: Library

Thoughts:

I enjoyed Maggie’s wry humour and straightforward personality as I dove into her coming of age story that takes places in this strange camp. Her first crush on Erin is so sweet and the build up in the scenes between them is palpable but also realistic. There is a sense of longing that threads through the story. Though Erin is a bit of a distant character, which makes their relationship a strained one.

After Maggie comes out, I really liked how she had a supportive friend in Bethany. I loved the scenes when they teased each other. The inside jokes around the Backstreet Boys also made me laugh while the songs got stuck in my head. On the other hand, the later scenes with the camp overseer, other ‘friends’ and trusted adults – really highlights how dismissive homophobic attitudes can hurt people. I liked that Maggie always pursued what she wanted despite how vulnerable this close-minded community made her feel. The overall cast of characters is not very diverse but not surprising, given that this is a memory of an insular close-minded camp in the South.

The realistic ending to Maggie’s first love reminded me of Skim by Mariko Tamaki – another great contemporary YA graphic novel with a lesbian protagonist. The simple illustrations and the soft pastel tones of the graphics support the nostalgic and tension filled aspects of this coming of age story. Thanks again to Chiara for putting Honor Girl on my TBR.

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6 thoughts on “Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this review! Even though the cast isn’t diverse, it seems like a very interesting insight into a camp like that in the South. Also, you put Skim onto my radar! Thank you!

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  2. I read this one mid-week (after seeing you and Chiara read it and have intriguing and varied throughts, I checked my library and they had it, so I could read it, too! Which I was kinda chuffed about *laughs*) and it was such an interesting and surprising, in a bunch of ways, graphic novel. I don’t feel like I really ever settled fully into liking it, or feeling like I ever got particularly close with Maggie or any of the other characters, but I did enjoy the experience of reading it and seeing the experience of Camp, new love and friendship.

    I was pretty horrified by the manipulation and the quiet homophobia because of how… not unexpected, but how subtly brutal it was. That was really an important element to be shown in the story, and because homophobia is so real it would be so wrong if books pretended it didn’t exist so it’s also important to show the truth of in that aspect, but this being a memoir makes it that bit harder to read. That extra truth of it harder to accept.

    I wasn’t really around in the right time for the Backstreet Boys, but I so enjoyed those scenes and the passion Maggie had for Kevin *laughs* It was so sweet and realistic and I loved that.

    Lovely review, Glaiza. I just checked goodreads and apparently I never added Skim to my tbr. *sigh* WELL NOW I HAVE.

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    1. I’m so happy we prompted a reading chain reaction! I was a kid when the Backstreet Boys were out but the songs still managed to invade my memory. On the other side of things, it is hard to read these confronting aspects in memoirs but it is good to share them. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I’m happy that Skim is going on people’s official lists!

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