Katrina Burchett's Reviews > Camo Girl

Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
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's review
Feb 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: books-i-own, young-adult
Read on February 12, 2011

Z is different because he has a great imagination. Ella is different because she’s the only black student in the school. All they have is each other, the only two at a table in the cafeteria and no other kids to walk with after school. There used to be three of them, but, Millie, the girl they grew up with, went her own way after grade school and found a place among the popular crowd in middle school. Z doesn’t care about being popular, but Ella wouldn’t mind sitting with the popular kids at lunch or socializing with them outside of school. Will wanting to become part of a group become so important to her that she abandons Z?
Bailey James is used to being the new kid at school because his family moves around a lot. He’s accepted by the popular crowd with no problem, but he’s nothing like the ones who bully Z and Ella. He likes Ella and wants to be her friend, but that might be difficult, seeing that Z has claimed her as his own.
Ella’s friend, Z, spent most of his time in a fantasy world, using his imagination to escape reality and this made him look strange in the eyes of everyone else at school. I liked that he had a great imagination; actually, a gift is what I’d call it. And it’s okay to pretend, but escaping reality all together, that has to be a sign that a serious problem needs to be addressed. I was scared for Z sometimes, expecting someone to do more than throw food on him. Ella quickly came to his rescue when others bullied him and she joined him in his fantasy world because that was what he needed from her. She’d answer to milady and pretend to ride a horse because she truly cared about Z. And even when she was frustrated by the way he’d withdraw into his imaginary world when it was important to her that he deals with reality, she couldn’t stay angry at him for long. Ella knew what it meant to be a true friend to Z, and I loved that. It’s a shame, though, that it took a big scare before his issues were taken seriously.
Ella was the only black student in the school before Bailey came along, but I don’t think that’s the reason she was bullied (not that anything justifies such cruel behavior). And I don’t think it was only because she was Z’s friend. I think the discoloration of her skin was what made her a target, because that was what really made her appear different to other students. Her face was described as dark brown in some places and light brown in others. I figured this discoloration made her feel bad the way a case of acne would affect a teenage girl’s self-esteem, but after reading chapter four, I could see that it was much more serious than that for Ella. She was so disgusted by her face that she could barely look in the mirror, and I hurt for her. I’m not sure she would have wanted to leave the house if it wasn’t for her mother and her Grammie. She received lots of hugs and encouraging words from these two strong, hardworking women. She knew she was loved unconditionally and that was beautiful.
Bailey was a likable guy. He was there for Ella the way she was there for Z. Even though he was the popular basketball player, he was dealing with his own issues and in the end it turned out that all three – two unpopular, one popular – had more in common than they thought.
Camo Girl is a well-written story with short chapters and clever sentences. There are parts that saddened me and parts that made me smile. It is entertaining and insightful.

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02/12/2011 page 134
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by bjneary (new)

bjneary Ordering this for my students, I loved her lst book!

Katrina Burchett Hey BJ:) You know, I didn't even remember I had purchased a copy of Magoon's The Rock and the River until I got Camo Girl. I'll have to get around to reading it.

message 3: by bjneary (new)

bjneary Katrina you will love it, what a great lst book about the civil rights in Chicago, 2 brothers, a peaceful father and the brutality of the time period....a must read.

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