Review Blog

Sep 06 2015

Honor Girl a Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

cover image

Candlewick Press, 2015. ISBN 9780763673826
(Age: Yr 8-Yr 10) Themes: Same-sex relationships, love, friendship, loyalty, self-confidence, resilience, teenage girls. On the surface this beautifully produced graphic account of the author at 15 experiencing first love at an all-girl Kentucky Christian summer camp seems very American and irrelevant, including the Honor Girl award of the title, not to mention the National Rifle Association's sponsoring of the award for the best shooter. However the immediacy of the graphics soon draws the reader in and the dialogue perceptively immerses us in the universally recognisable lives of these teens. The camp environment throws into stark relief themes of petty jealousies, loyal friends, personal challenges, teasing, keeping and losing reputations and of course obsessions with boys. The camp is a hot bed of rumour and gossip so when Maggie finds herself attracted to Erin, one of the older counsellors, who also seems attracted, her life becomes fraught with anxiety. She finds it difficult to confide in best friend Shannon but discovers unexpected support from Bethany who guesses her secret. When the head counsellor finds out Maggie is told not to speak to Erin and to go back to doing what she was doing before.
'What was I doing before? . . . floating along? Maybe I was better off that way because what's ironic is that being in love doesn't actually make you happy. It makes it impossible to be happy. You're carrying this desire now. Maybe if you knew where it came from you could put it back. But you don't. ' p174.
Maggie Thrash is a staff writer for Rookie online magazine for teens and this is her first book. She seems to reach her target audience effortlessly and the watercolour drawings have a freshness that epitomises the innocence and freedom of these girls at summer camp. The text is clear and very legible, I sometimes found it hard to distinguish between some minor characters but I am sure that the year 8 to 10 girls it is written for won't have a problem.
Sue Speck

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