Honor Girl: a graphic memoir
As a teenager, I find that it’s rare to find a book depicting people of my age accurately. Usually books will either depict teens as being walking human stereotypes or ridiculously mature and obviously written by someone much older. Maggie Thrash’s Honor Girl, however, is a graphic memoir that reads like it was taken directly from the everyday experiences of a teenager’s life.
The novel takes place at Camp Bellflower for Girls, where the protagonist, Maggie, has been going every summer. The main conflict of the story comes from Maggie falling in love with Erin, one of the camp counsellors. However, as it is a graphic memoir, there is no specific plot, and a large portion of the book is just Maggie’s experiences at summer camp.
The overall atmosphere and art of Honor Girl is extremely nostalgic. Although the art appears quite plain and amateurish, the inexperienced-looking style seems to coincide with the protagonist’s lack of experience and experimentation with identity and sexuality throughout the graphic novel. The only negative comment I have about the art is that some of the girls were somewhat hard to distinguish from one another, but overall, it was simplistic and fitting for the story it depicted.
Most of the humour is dialogue-based with a great balance of sarcasm and silliness that displays the level of maturity of the characters and reminds me of real summer camps I’ve gone to in the past. The era-specific references and jokes also make the novel feel very nostalgic and wraps the story together in a very “summer camp of 2000” experience.
The romantic aspects of the novel where incredibly realistic. A bumbling crush that starts with awkward eye contact and accidental touching is extremely accurate to all teenage romances. Additionally, as a member of the LGBTQIA community, the passive casual homophobia of many characters was very relatable and obviously strained the relationship between Maggie and Erin. I did, however, appreciate that Maggie did not try to change despite how close-minded the majority of the camp was, and how she found supportive friends along the way.
The ending of the novel is very bittersweet, and although it may leave people feeling unsatisfied, I thought it was incredibly realistic, and portrayed the feeling of a fleeting teenage crush incredibly well.
Overall, Honor Girl is a well-paced and fantastically-written and illustrated graphic novel that would be well suited for anyone in their teens, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
Emily, age 15
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