It’s so easy to forget what it was like to be a teen, when infatuations could seem like the end of the world if they weren’t reciprocated. Maggie Thrash in her graphic memoir ‘Honor Girl’, poignantly draws her life as 15-year-old camper, navigating with feelings for a 19-year-old counselor.
The story unfolds at the 100-year-old Camp Bellowflower for christian girls, where their days are spent blissfully in the woods, playing outdoor games or sports, reading Harry Potter, mooning over boys, teasing each other and doing little mandatory chores. Maggie is much shorter than her peers, and is slightly on the asocial side, so she prefers spending her time at the rifle range doing target practice, since it’s the highest point in the camp and very few like to hike it up. Kevin Richardson from the ‘Backstreet Boys’ is Maggie’s ideal type, so she is taken aback when she finds herself obsessed with Erin, an older girl.
The art-style in the book is very simple, like color-pencil illustrations made by a teenager, giving the mood an adolescent innocent touch. And yet, the themes are not all that simple, neither are the several girls that appear in the book, camping out and taking jabs at each other, in both fun and devious ways. Maggie’s recollections will make most nostalgic of their own teen years, regardless of whether they’ve ever attended a summer camp, isolated from the adult world for weeks.
Maggie pulls you into the past, among the giggles of her friends, and you get lost in that awkward age between adolescence and adulthood, acutely feeling the protagonist’s confusion and despair. Muggle love is such, that even the enchanting spells of the wizarding world pale in front of it. Readers would love the carmarderie between Maggie and some of her friends, who try to encourage her to pursue her feeling for the senior girl and don’t put her down for a second.
‘Honor Girl’ is a title that is bestowed upon one chosen girl in the camp, someone who is considered an ideal camper, who everyone else can look up to. The girls have a candle ceremony where everyone would light a candle, then take turns to touch the flame of the honor girl’s candle, a symbolic attempt at sharing her virtues. The title is symbolic, because for Maggice Thrash, the ‘weirdo’ for who like girls, being a ‘honor girl’ is the last thing on her mind. But who is to say what an ‘ideal’ camper is?
I loved reading every page of this graphic novel, from the simple illustrations, to the range of different girl characters, each asserting their individuality in their own unique ways. It’s funny how you will find so many relatable elements in the book, doesn’t matter if you aren’t a teen anymore, or a lesbian.
It’s a 5/5 for me.
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