September 16, 2017

honor girl

Honor Girl

Maggie Thrash

Pub. 2015

267 pgs.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Graphic Novel

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

The summer of 2000. A camp for privileged girls in rural Kentucky. Maggie is almost fifteen, and she’s not really sure she fits into her life. She adores camp because it allows her to to explore other options than the expectations and preconceptions of her private school back home in Atlanta.

It’s a summer like any other.

Until she starts to notice Erin. A college-aged camp counselor for years, Erin is everything Maggie wants to be: smart, funny, a talented musician, and absolutely beautiful.

It’s a summer of firsts. Dreams. Kisses. Love.

It’s a summer Maggie will never forget.

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Review

“Why is it over? Why can’t there be more? I want more book! It can’t possibly be done! It’s not fair! It’s not ended! Like, it just stops and ends. It doesn’t go on anymore, and there’s no ending, not even a sad ending. It’s just over! Sadfaces! So many sad faces!”

There, in all it’s wail-y, whiny glory, is my actual, legitimate reaction to the end of Honor Girl.

Oh, man did I root for Maggie and Erin throughout this book. I wanted them to have all the happy times and everything, despite the obstacles they faced: homophobic counselors, catty campers, dwindling summer days, all of it. A world still not ready for gay marriage and equal rights and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (which actually comes up as a plot point).

And then I remember the age difference between Maggie and Erin and feel icky. Like, in retrospect, I wonder if I shouldn’t revise my grade for Honor Girl to more accurately reflect the amount of ickiness I feel. Sure, I knew people when I was a freshman in high school who had relationships with people who was seventeen, but that was a difference of only two years, not…five? Six? I don’t think they ever said how old Erin was, just that she’d already been in college, but Maggie was only fourteen. I know what it’s like to crush on an older person (there were some pretty incredible teachers in high school), but I never would’ve even considered acting on any of it. Just, ew.

Maggie and Erin kiss.

Squidge factor rising.

Argh, and it’s so completely frustrating, too! Aside from that one element, the (under)age thing, this book is so good. Like, pretty much beyond good. The art is super-simple, almost childish, but it fits the story so well that it doesn’t matter how unprofessional it looks. It just works. The story itself is a little meander-y, like an inner tube on a river on a hot summer day. Slow, but relaxing instead of boring. It’s perfect summer reading material.

And the characters were so real that I could hear them in my head as I read. I had to put the book down a few times to actually stand up, pace, and work through my anger at some of the characters. I was legitimately yelling at them to stop being jerks and telling them how wrong they were about everything. I wanted to hug Maggie and punch the main antagonists even though some of them were sympathetic and age Erin down to an appropriate age every time I remembered how much older she was.

And most of all, I wanted more.

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TLDR

*cries softly* So good, but so uncomfortable about liking the story so much, but so good and relatable, but not okay with the age difference, but… *incoherent whimpering continues*

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Recommended for…

  • Graphic Novel Fans
  • Memoir Fans
  • Summer reading, but only if there’s someone to discuss it with afterwards

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Issues

  • Bullying: character is bullied by friends of her rival on the firing range
  • LGBTQA: same-sex romance and relationships are a huge part of the story
  • Rape: statutory only; two characters, one under fifteen, one far over, kiss
  • Religion: the camp is a Christian camp with all that entails: prayer, hymns, proselytizing
  • Swearing: for a Christian camp, there’s an awful lot of foul language, including multiple instances of “fuck”
  • Weapon Use: several characters are recreational gun enthusiasts and are working on their target shooting certifications

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Themes

  • Acceptance
  • Change vs. Tradition
  • Determination
  • Friendship
  • Growing Up
  • Honesty
  • Identity
  • LGBTQA
  • Right vs. Wrong
  • Romantic Love
  • Sports

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Grade

Main Character 2
Subcast 1
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 0
Consideration of Themes 1
Didactic Tone 1
Suspension of Disbelief 1
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 2
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 1
Reader Enjoyment 2
Total 23/30
77%

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