Monday, April 18, 2016

Honor Girl

Honor Girl is a compelling graphic memoir that you will want to finish in one sitting, so be warned. Graphic memoirs just might be my favorite type of "graphic" book, like El Deafo by Cece Bell, Smile by Raina Telgemeier, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Maggie has always gone to the same girls' camp every summer, but during her fifteenth summer, she falls in love. With a girl. (Because it's a girls' camp.) Maggie is shocked to find this vital piece of information she didn't know about herself, and spends the summer trying to deal with her feelings. The book is framed by seventeen-year-old Maggie looking back at the summer.

Besides the main storyline of coming out to herself, the side stories in this book are wonderfully, and completely embody the timeless feeling of summer camp. I loved the book for the story, because the people looked a little too much like anime drawings for me to relate to, but then I looked more into Maggie Thrash herself.

It turns out, she isn't an artist at all. She wanted to share the story of her fifteenth summer and coming out, but didn't want to tell it in a traditional way, so she decided to try making it a graphic novel. She looked up illustrations of people and trees and kept practicing until hers looked good. From an interview with MTV:
It’s sort of important to me to let kids know you don’t have to have art school cred to do this. Just do it. Anyone can do it. Not to devalue the medium, but don’t be intimidated by it. Just try it.
Also worth sharing are her thoughts on diversity in young adult fiction:
I’m really excited for the day when you can no longer presume that the protagonist is straight, or that they’re white, or that they have all their arms and legs. There’s this unwritten rule that the protagonist has to be a tabula rasa for you to be able to relate to them, and that a tabula rasa equals straight, equals white, and just that — it needs to, and everyone wants to, be able to relate to other kinds of protagonists and other kinds of stories.

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