Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

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Title: Honor Girl
Author: Maggie Thrash
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
Pages: 267
Source: Library, hardcover

Since I don’t read many graphic memoirs, the ones I do stand out. And this one is hilarious! Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash brought me back to my days at sleep away camp – the gossip, the hot camp counselors, the sacred candy (oh, the candy), the dreaded camping trip (and portaging), and in my case, the overwhelming desire to run away. It also reminded me of a time when I was very self-conscious, learning about myself, and negotiating my own identity.

In Honor Girl, Maggie is a sleepwalking, Backstreet Boy loving, uniform wearing, 15-year-old. She goes to the same all-girls camp every year– the same one both her mother and grandmother attended before her. Nothing has changed there since 1922. Every summer, on the first night, all the campers serenade the Honor Girl, a 16-year-old, appointed the year before. It is tradition that all the girls would touch their flame to hers. Most of the memoir is about Maggie’s relationships with her fellow campers – the good and the ugly – as well as, her close (and maybe slightly inappropriate) friendship with Erin, a 19-year-old female camp counselor. Thrash’s memoir is a very honest depiction of a young girl battling her camp’s and fellow camper’s expectations of her, the confusion about her own feelings, and the humour of life itself at that age.

Thrash does an excellent job expressing her teenage emotions – both visually and verbally. Although Honor Girl is about her distinct experience, I felt like she could have understood my own as well. This is a great read for anyone who has had the pleasure, or possibly the torture of attending camp.

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