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honor girlWhat: Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Who: Candlewick Press

When: September 8th 2015

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Walker Books Australia for review.

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.

3cats2I read Honor Girl in about an hour, because I read graphic novels and manga volumes extremely quickly, and it was also really easy to immerse myself in the story that I was reading.

Maggie was a great character to read about (although, it feels weird calling her a character since it’s a memoir, but I’m going with it). She’s sarcastic and laid back, and I wanted to jump inside the book and become instant best friends with her. I completely understood her feelings for Erin, and how she felt like she was consumed by them, because I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there when we were teenagers.

Other than Maggie, I also liked her two friends (I think their names were Shannon and Rachel but I could be seriously wrong there). Rachel (or at least I think her name was Rachel) was a little younger than Maggie, and completely hyperactive. She guessed from the get-go that Maggie had feelings for Erin, and even though she teased Maggie about it a bit, she was a pretty loyal friend. Shannon was really similar to Maggie in the sarcastic and laid back kind of demeanour, and to be honest I kind of shipped them.

But other than that, I didn’t really like any of the other characters. The other girls at the camp were complete bitches, to say the least. They bullied Maggie, both verbally and physically, and I hated them. The camp kind of “mother” was a horrible homophobe, and I cannot believe that Maggie had to go through such a disgusting time when it came to that woman. The things she said. I just. I couldn’t. It hurt to read about, to be honest.

Erin. I felt like Erin was kind of weak. Maggie was scared to initiate anything between them, but Erin never did, either. And then when that ending came around, I was just shocked. My heart ached for Maggie. She had spent so much time and effort and feelings on Erin and then Erin just … didn’t do the same for her. I didn’t quite understand her character at all, and I thought that Maggie could do better.

The art was gorgeous in its simplicity, and the colours were divine. I really liked how I could see the difference between Maggie’s level of excitement about the camp (near to nil) and the other girls’ excitement about the camp (which was, fearfully, a lot). The whole thing is handwritten, but I really liked the sections in cursive (like the last page) – those lines really stood out from the rest, and brought an even more personal touch to Honor Girl.

All in all, I really did like Honor Girl. Even though I am a sucker for a happy ending and the ending of this story in no way appeased that side of me, I can also understand that happy endings don’t always happen in real life, and sometimes we are disappointed and left hanging.

If you’re looking for a beautiful graphic novel about falling in love for the first time, then there’s no reason to not pick up Honor Girl.

© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: homophobia in this novel

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Posted on: September 11, 2015 • By: Chiara

8 Responses to Review: Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

  1. I’ve never read a graphic novel before, but this looks quite interesting, especially since it’s a memoir. From the cover, I was guessing the insides would be just as pretty, and I’m glad to hear that’s the case here. I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up, but I’m glad you enjoyed it for the most part. Wonderful review, as always!

    (P.S. I don’t know why, but I always have the urge to write #notspam at the end of every comment. Haha. Oh dear…)

    • Chiara says:

      This one would be a great place to start, because it’s not too long, and the story bubbles and speech bubbles are really easy to follow. The art is super pretty in a gorgeously simplistic way, which I loved.

      Thanks so much, dear! And go ahead and hashtag! It could be your signature XD

  2. Ughhhh ERIN. I was so cranky at her. >_> I felt like the whole story was about Maggie having to be brave, and take the first step and ALL THE THINGS. But why couldn’t Erin too? I had SUCH a hard time with this story because if it’s real life, then how can it be faulty? Yet, as a story, I didn’t much enjoy it because I felt, at the end, that I didn’t even know what the point was. D:

    • Chiara says:

      RIGHT? Erin was kinda annoying in parts, because it felt like she wasn’t 100% on board, but then she’s the one who kind of started it? -.-

      I know what you mean about having a point to the story, but I actually didn’t mind that so much. I mean, people do have romances that don’t end up going anywhere, and you remember them as your first love, or your summer camp love, and that’s all they really are.

  3. Ember says:

    A graphic novel memoir??? How interesting is that! As soon as I seen the words, “all girl camp” and “first romance”, I was all in. Then I seen that it’s a graphic novel memoir and it automatically became a definite to-read for me. I’m intrigued to see how it turns out, but by your review, I’m also scared to see how hateful the one woman is. You mentioned that it’s hand-written and some parts are in cursive — that sounds interesting as well. I can’t wait to read it.

  4. Romi says:

    This sounds interesting (love graphic novels!), but also incredibly painful. And it being a memoir makes it seem like it would be all the harder, especially if it doesn’t have a HEA and the romance wasn’t fantastic on the other side. It’s so hard when you’re rooting for a character and want them to find happiness, but their romantic interest is lousey and they’re so much more deserving than the one they’re into.
    I hadn’t heard of this and am not sure, overall, whether it sounds like something I’d enjoy, especially with the bullying and, again, that romance, but I’m glad it was fairly good for you. It sounds interesting, and I think we need graphic novels like this one.

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, it was pretty painful, especially since I know it was real. Like, all this stuff happened to that girl, and that made it incredibly heartbreaking to read, to be honest.

      I definitely do think we need more books like this one – both in graphic novel format and others, as well. They’re so important.


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