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Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

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All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort.

Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.

267 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2015

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About the author

Maggie Thrash

6 books300 followers
MAGGIE THRASH is the author of the critically acclaimed graphic memoirs Honor Girl, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Lost Soul, Be at Peace, as well as two novels for young adults. Rainbow Black is her first novel for adults. Born and raised in Atlanta, she lives in New Hampshire.

You can also find her on maggiethrash.com and on instagram @maggiethrash

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5 stars
2,593 (25%)
4 stars
3,877 (38%)
3 stars
2,813 (27%)
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234 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,535 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
May 18, 2018
BooktubeAThon Challenge #3: Read a book entirely outside - COMPLETE!

Okay this is actually like a 4.751328482, docking that small amount because I WANTED MOOOOORE! This graphic novel was hilarious and perfect. What a great exploration of sexuality and BACKSTREET BOYS REFERENCES. Also, fuck O-Town. Fight me.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews599 followers
August 18, 2016
I think when telling a sensitive life story... a 'graphic-novel' adds a very special element. The few times I've read 'graphic-memoirs'- they've had a lasting impression on me. "Honor Girl", is no exception and invites us into the world of summer camp.

Maggie is dealing with her sexuality. She has strong feelings for an older girl, named Erin, who is a camp counselor.

There is camp in itself....getting along with other teens, activities, rest hour, writing letters home, talk about boys, and "girls discovering how to be "Tough Girls".
"Hey Boys, Maybe I'll Kiss You,
Or Maybe I'll Beat The Shit Out Of You".

This is a wonderful book for teen girls - straight or gay. Even though there is a girl-crush theme - gay theme- the ending of this story is truthful ( maybe not how readers
wished it to be-- but this is a 'memoir').
Its as realistic as you can get- emotionally felt-adorable - funny- sweet- warm- brave-and vulnerable.

"I didn't know what it felt like to be mature. I didn't think Libby knew either---The way she cried and whined all the time seem pretty childish to me. But she was so right that I could have been more magnanimous about it. Even now, I didn't really care about her
feelings. I mostly care that she was making me look bad. Maybe if I did something gracious and mature, Erin would hear about it and be impressed. Which I think I realized was possibly the most immature reason to do something nice".

Good humor....the graphics supported the story --- which I thought they were sweet!
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
December 2, 2015
I really liked this. As Maggie will be quick to point out, it's obvious it was not written for me, a middle aged white straight guy, but you know, it turns out it actually was. This is a girl's summer camp story, story of first love, first love of young Maggie at 15, crushing on a 19 year old (girl) counselor, and I didn't like the artwork at first--too minimal--but then I thought it was enough, usually and subtly revealing, as I came to ease into the story.

A couple of the girls were hard to keep apart visually a bit for me, but the story is great, a memoir Thrash did of her first crush, sweet, endearing, important for young girls to read everywhere, and maybe especially girls who have feelings for girls. And me, as it turns out. I liked it a lot. Glad she did it for readers of memoirs everywhere. Ends a bit abruptly, but it's a first crush, you knew it had to end that way. And remember, those who don't like the ending, this is a memoir, not a novel; this is what happened to her! Highly recommend this first book by Thrash!
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
June 29, 2019
I love that this book took place at a camp; it was the perfect summer vibes. Also liked this story about discovering sexuality and your first love and how the confusion of that doesn't always end with closure. The main downfall of this book was just that it felt a little bit long for what it was, and the art style was incredibly primitive and simplistic, almost like I could have drawn these panels in color pencil with the same artistic ability. I liked the message, but it's my least favorite art style I've ever encountered in a graphic novel.
Profile Image for Jan Philipzig.
Author 1 book267 followers
October 29, 2015
Isn’t it refreshing every once in a while to come across comic-book characters that feel and think and behave like actual human beings? Maggie Thrash seems to have some kind of magical access to the mindset of her younger, pubescent self, and the result is a story that makes you realize just how rare subtle, thoughtful, realistic, sympathetic portrayals of teenagers are in popular culture these days.

The drawing style looks rather amateurish and clumsy at first glance, but it is carefully composed and captures the protagonists’ inexperience and sense of exploration very well. What’s more, Thrash has the rare ability to make the personal universal. I mean, as an older, heterosexual male, I am certainly not the prime target audience for this book, yet I cared deeply about its protagonists. The struggle to find a place in a world full of unfair rules, questionable values, and discriminating norms is a universal theme, of course, and I have rarely seen it portrayed as honestly and effectively as in Honor Girl.

The only thing that marred the story a bit for me were a few cases of product placement that felt strangely out of place in a story designed to unearth real human emotions and concerns in an increasingly commercialized, dehumanized world. Still, I am glad I picked this one up based on David Schaafsma’s enthusiastic (and spot-on) review, I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Do yourself a favor and check it out as well!
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
826 reviews207 followers
June 13, 2016

The summer she turns 15, Maggie goes to the same summer camp in southern Kentucky that she's attended forever. But this year, the unexpected happens. First she learns to focus well enough to become an ace rifle shot when she was previously pretty sloppy. And then she develops a crush on Erin, a 19-year-old counselor in the junior camp.

Both of these events affect her relationships with everyone else and combine to create horribly complicated interactions.

Libby, who has always been ahead of Maggie in the shooting competition, insists that Maggie should let her get the "D.E.", a coveted rifle rating, first. Libby's friends make it clear that Maggie should just back off and show consideration for Libby's feelings rather than try to compete at all. They ostracize her and turn her into an outsider as much as they can.

Then there's Erin. Maggie barely interacts with her, but Erin dominates her life, the way crushes do. And when another girl notices what's going on, Maggie is faced with the vulnerability of knowing that someone else can blab her secret at any time.

This is one of those quiet, subtle stories where nothing happens, exactly -- it's a memoir, so there's no real plot or building sequence of events. But the emotional turmoil, and the tricky balance of dealing with the other girls, was gripping for me. There's no solid resolution to the story, just a bittersweet realization at the end that literally hangs in the air. I loved Maggie's voice in this, as she feels very much just-turned-fifteen. Her fears and confusion radiate off the page as she tries to figure out how to navigate being true to herself while somehow also being the person other people keep telling her to be.

The story is set in 2000, because that's when it happened, so boy bands are still an important thing, and no one seems to be suffering from internet or smartphone withdrawal. (They send and receive letters by real mail!) The artwork bothered me a little at first -- it's a bit simple and unpolished -- but after a few pages it seemed to really fit the story and grew on me.

Thanks to Sara’s super-short review that convinced me I should grab this book!

Profile Image for Christy.
3,915 reviews33k followers
May 5, 2019
3 stars

I liked this one a lot, I just wish it had more of an ending. The art and story were both great, though.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
October 12, 2016
I get why people like the LGBT coming-of-age story, but the artwork was really bad. I couldn't get past it. Another reviewer said they were surprised it was still readable despite the author's inability to draw - honestly, for me, it wasn't.

Profile Image for emily.
192 reviews497 followers
December 31, 2015
I really enjoyed this!!!! It was a nice story about coming to terms with your sexuality and honestly I liked how it didn't end up nicely. The end is not nice, just a forewarning, not a spoiler. I really liked how the setting of Maggie's story was at summer camp--I feel odd saying that as if she choose the setting but it's a memoir so her story actually did take place at a summer camp. But as I said it was an aspect that I really liked. I'm really glad she shared her coming-to-terms-with-her-sexuality story in the way that she did because it wasn't all nice, and it didn't end nicely, and she never actually came out. Publishing this obviously states that she has come out since she was 17 but it was interesting not to include that in her memoir. Maybe she did this to show that coming out and coming to terms with your sexuality is hard and that's okay because that's normal. Either way, I liked how she structured this and I appreciate what she decided to include in this graphic memoir. And it is a graphic memoir, in case you were unaware. Honestly, the art style turned me off a bit at first. I started this maybe last month and put it down after a few pages. The images were made with pen and watercolors but drawn in a very juvenile way, like how a ten or eleven year old would draw people. As I said, at first I didn't really appreciate it at all and it kind of bothered me that the art wasn't more aesthetically pleasing or interesting but I eventually warmed up to it. I actually ended up really liking it. The lower quality of the art (not meaning that it was bad, just...not as polished, maybe?) made it feel very juvenile and that added something extra to the story. Maggie was only 15 and still attending summer camp and was in love with an older girl (a counselor, not even a camper) and spent a lot of time feeling small and young and the feeling the art gave off really added to that aspect of Maggie's story.

This was a really great graphic memoir--if you need more graphic novels or memoirs or lesbians in your life, this is book you want to pick up!!

Thanks to Landfall Freight Co. for including this in one of your monthly boxes! Landfall Freight Co. is a subscription service that sends out one box per month with a couple singe issue comics and one main comic book or graphic novel. It's my favorite subscription service out there, and I highly recommend them! If you want to check them out, head on over to their website
Profile Image for Liz.
Author 25 books594 followers
November 8, 2021
I really liked the story and the pacing of this book: perfect memoir fodder, for sure. I feel a little wary of this opinion, but the artwork and the use of the computer font made it hard for me to really just dive into the book. There were a lot of emotional moments that fell flat because the characters don't have pupils, and a blank, white eyeball floating on a head doesn't really display a character's feelings very well. However, the fact that the story is very readable DESPITE this shortcoming, is a testament to the fact that it's a strong story to begin with.
Profile Image for Raina.
1,604 reviews128 followers
March 16, 2016
Imagine your best friend is telling you the story of her first love affair with a woman.
That's how this book feels.

This isn't the first book about girls falling in love at summer camp. Far from it. Thrash frames the story by depicting a time when she saw this other woman again, years later. She includes a lot of the context of their love - drama with the other campers, the extra level of taboo (the other woman was a counselor), an unusual incident of a flood isolating the campers away from the camp for days.

Her illustrations are inexact and wavering, in a way that feels ripped out of a journal. Her thin lines pair surprisingly well with the full-color production - it feels like she could have drawn the whole thing with crayons and a ball-point pen.

It's honest, riveting, and sweet.
Everyone can identify with a classic coming of age story. And this is one of them.
Profile Image for Tessa.
108 reviews1 follower
June 29, 2022
Thank you so much to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!!

2,5 stars

Let me start off by saying that I really wanted to like this book. I thought it would be a light, easy, fast read. I had never read a memoir, and was going into it with a really open mind.

💫That being said, this book ended up being a big meh. I was not a big fan of the artwork, the dialogues felt forged, and none of the characters felt very compelling. I don't know if it was because of the art style, but sometimes it felt really impossible to tell the blond girls apart. Not even Erin felt like a compelling character.

💫 I know this book is based off real events that happened, but it just felt so wrong. The counselor/camper dynamic made me a bit unconfortable. Very unconfortable, actually.

💫 Was there a plot? I don't know if you can apply that here, given that it's about someone's life. But I felt that it was just a big collage of events glued together. Is that life at summer camps?

💫The pining, the angst, the sulking for Erin felt so repetitive and like it was going nowhere...

💫Well, as you can tell it's not my favorite read of the year at all. But I still respect it as the LGBT memoir that it is. It just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Ellis.
1,217 reviews137 followers
September 22, 2015
Maggie Thrash’s formative experiences at Camp Bellfower as a fifteen year old coming to the realization that she’s a lesbian. The art work was a little bland for my taste, but the writing is lovely. Maggie cracks a lot of wise & so do her friends, but at no time did they seem too clever for their britches. Since the defining view of this on GR seem to be about how adorable the romance is, I've got to be honest about how hard I am side-eyeing Erin, the camp counselor who Maggie develops a crush on.

Erin! You’re nineteen and Maggie is only fifteen. What were you thinking? A four year age difference doesn’t have to be that big of a deal when you’re an adult. If B were 39 or I were 34 (if you’re asking, I’d rather be 34 in this scenario) it wouldn’t really change our relationship from what it is now. But were I still 19, I would rightly see a 15-year-old as a child & someone not suitable to receive attention from me sexually. Erin should have known better. And honestly I think kind of she did, because from Maggie’s perspective this book is about, “Why did it always feel like this love was up to me?” while a book about the same events told from Erin’s perspective could well be about, “I have inappropriate feelings for this girl who is too young for me.” I think it could also be about, “I have inappropriate feelings for this girl who is too young for me, yet I keep putting myself into improper situations with her & waiting on her to make the first move so I’ll have plausible deniability,” but hey, this was Maggie’s actual life and this wasn’t really written from a place of feeling upset or angry at Erin other than Maggie’s confusion about her not wanting to make out. Maggie got an “Everyone else needs to feel safe, too. From you. Parents don’t send their girls here to frolic around in your lesbian fantasy” talk that made me seethe, but I wonder if there was a version of that talk which the same camp leader gave to Erin - but of course since Maggie wasn’t present for it, I’ll never know.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,307 followers
April 17, 2016
Such a beautiful and fun story! I felt completely transported into the world of this book, and it definitely gave me that summer-camp vibe. I really loved Maggie's character, and I thought all of the side characters were really fun as well. It was a really wonderful look into how Maggie dealt with her sexuality in such an important time in her life. It all had this ringing sense of realism, which is really good as it is a graphic memoir.
As far as the art style, it was not what I was expecting at all, but it didn't take me very long to adjust and get into it. In the end, I actually felt like the art style fit the story, so I don't think it detracted from my reading experience at all.
My only problem with this book was honestly (and I've heard a lot of people say this) how abrupt the ending was? I've read books where that hasn't bothered me, but the end of this graphic novel felt SO sudden, and it sort of felt like I had been left in a lurch, not knowing what happened to anyone, let alone just the main character. That was really my only issue with an otherwise fantastic graphic novel, which I would still highly recommend.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,312 reviews52 followers
August 25, 2015
This review can also be found on A Thousand Lives Lived, check it out for more!

I'm the type of bookworm who rarely reads graphic novels. It's not like I don't want to—I really do, like I always wanted to pick up the Saga series. I just have so many books in my life right now to read and I'm actually on a book-buying ban. Anyways... Honor Girl was the perfect quick read for me. Plus, it's a TRUE NON-FICTION STORY from the author's perspective. It's her memoir, drawn by her and written by her! This is the coolest novel to hit my grabby hands in years, and I'm so glad to have gotten the chance to read it early. Let's get started!

Honor Girl was a truly adorable read. It's something that you can finish in an hour (at least, that's how long it took me) and the illustrations and story are gorgeous. Maggie's story is unforgettable and it's a beautiful book itself. I'm really excited to see how the finished published copy will look like, as it's supposed to be in full-colour (this was black and white), although it doesn't even matter because the artwork is fabulous either way. I guess that the hardcore judgers will have a great time trying to think of a rating for Thrash's work, because I'd give it a 5/5. I can't even try to imagine how much time and effort there must've been to make this possible. I can barely draw a stick person, and this is all out.

This also has practically no reviews on Goodreads yet, and I just wish that someone else had read it so we can chat about its awesomeness! Anybody? Anyone out there with a gleaming smile on their face as mine is?

From the moment when I spotted this book on the stands at the Candlewick Press booth at BEA this year, I knew that this would be an awesome read. And then I saw Maggie signing it, and there weren't many people in line, so I ran straight up to it. She was so sweet and I loved getting a chance to read her story! It's not everyday when you get to read someone's life story before the rest of the world can. *grins* And by the way, this is your ultimate summer late-night read. It takes place at a camp, Camp Bellflower for Girls, where Maggie has been going to every summer for most of her life. When we read the main part of the story, we find Maggie being fifteen years-old, my age, when she falls in love with Erin, an older girl in university.

LGBTQ diverse aspects? Struggles of peer pressure, keeping a moderate self-esteem and troubles of being a teenager? This is it, and what I loved most about the book is that it was taken place in 2000 (the year I was born) where modern society sure was different than ours today. No one is pictured to be sitting on phones or iPods, and everything is about the wilderness and the activities involved. Maggie's 15th year is when she also discovers her love of shooting and she struggles to gain confidence with her talent as others become jealous.

Maggie writing about her younger self is a risk, I do have to say. Names and dates were probably changed for privacy and everything, but it's crazy because she remembered all of these things. Who were her friends, what happened on one night and all of those kinds of things. A memoir is basically a view into someone's whole memorable life, and she did it wonderfully, her life seems to be like an actual contemporary romance story about hiding from others and trying to figure out who you are. The beginning and ending of her memoir, which jumps into a more present-day setting where Maggie is older is fresh and different, as well as surprising, just as if she were telling readers about her story on the phone or in person.

In conclusion, I admit that I had been waiting for this huge bombshell to come out of nowhere and hit readers hard. That plot twist or interesting fact that brought the book to life wasn't there. The romance was adorable, as was the rest of the story, but something was missing that makes me give this a 4 star. When this is released, get it on the first day with its gorgeous cover, coloured images and special story, because it's Maggie's, and you won't find anything else like it anywhere else. I give an award of honour to this book, for making me happy and smile. Not every book can.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books108 followers
November 28, 2015
In the first chapter of this graphic memoir we are brought across the river into the world of an-old school Christian girls summer camp by almost-mythical ferry, also known as a "man-pushed barge." This comes after the prologue in which two years has passed and Maggie, 17, reunites with Erin, now 21ish, and Erin, over the course of two panels, with ice cream, in a desert landscape (New Mexico), says: "Can I tell you something a little strange? I never thought I'd see you again."

So, we spend the rest of the book following the love story of Erin and Maggie and finding out why Erin though they wouldn't meet again (and what happens when they do).

I enjoyed getting to know Maggie and Erin and some of the other characters (Shannon, Bethany, Libby...) and getting a sense of the terrain. But at a certain point the story felt like it just stopped moving forward. Part of it may have been the structure and framing, which I'm not sure really worked. Starting in the narrative present where Maggie and Erin meet again, returning to the past, coming back to the present and their reunion. The story was built around Maggie's recognition of her attraction to Erin and once that happens, once she knows she's into another female person, there's no so many places to go. There's not a lot of introspection or exploration into the dynamics happening in the camp, and we never really learn why Erin came back there when she was nineteen, and queer, and what drew her to fall in love with a fifteen year old. I was interested in the romance, but I lost interest as the story went on because nothing seemed to be shifting, changing or deepening. And when I got to the end of narrative arc, the book didn't feel complete.

I appreciate Maggie's struggles both interior and social, coming to terms with desire and identity in a Christian summer camp environment. I could relate to a lot of the anxieties she felt, though I don't know that I fully got a sense of her character outside of these anxieties.

The mysterious Erin, in theory, was beautifully drawn, as were Maggie's camp friends who were all really cute about the whole queer situation. But all in all, though compelling in many ways, the characters also felt not quite fully drawn.

A lot of goodreads reviewers weren't so into the art in this book. I really appreciated the artist's style and some of the humor, though again, it wish the humor brought more depth to the story. The final scene, for example, could have been a fantastic chemistry experiment of sad meeting funny, but instead, for me, it just fell, er, flat. This book is good, and it has a lot of promise. In some sense, the memoir got in the way of the story.

Profile Image for Kayla Rayne.
101 reviews188 followers
May 21, 2016
"Not every moment has to happen."

Are you looking for a fun summer read that happens at summer camp, includes a MC who has a slight obsession with The Backstreets Boys, and follows the story of a girl who is on the cusp of discovering her sexuality? Well here it is! Seriously, this was such a sweet and summery coming of age memoir. There were so many things that I loved about this graphic novel.

The good:

-This is a graphic novel featuring a young Maggie Thrash as she explores her sexuality at a summer camp. This is the central piece to this memoir.

-The overall tone of this novel captured the atmosphere of a summer camp perfectly. It really put me into the world that Maggie lived in and I loved it. I am a sucker for camp anything so this pulled me in instantly and kept me entertained.

-Maggie has a beautiful story telling skills. Seeing her internal thoughts and the way she handled everything on the outside was so brilliantly written into the story. Obviously, these things really happened because it is a memoir, but the way Maggie put it into the story was beautifully done.

-The illustrations were so unique. I know that every graphic novelist has their own unique writing and illustrating but this was so different. The art kept my interest as much as the words and I found myself staring at the pages for so long.

-The exploration of Maggie's crush and how it related to her discovering her sexuality was portrayed well. I really liked how it was very focused on how Maggie as a 15 y/o felt. This graphic novel was very focused on Maggie as a young adult without any injection of how an adult might feel about the situation. Thank goodness for YA that is actually for young adults.

-Lastly, the story was so interesting to read. I really enjoyed how this was a lighthearted read in some places and then really hit it home on deeper issues on the next page.

I loved that Maggie put a piece of her life into the pages of this graphic novel and shared this intimate part of her life. It was so beautiful and I do highly recommend this story to anyone who is looking for a beautiful, intimate, and summery read.
Profile Image for Brooke.
284 reviews141 followers
July 21, 2017
I've been trying to get into graphic novels more & naturally decided to go with one on the top of my radar. Besides the obvious LGBTQIAP+ theme, the real bonus was the camp setting. Sleepaway Camp, anyone? While Thrash is clearly not the best artist, & I admit I sometimes had to do a double take on which character was speaking (they pretty much all look the same, save for possible variety of hair color), I don't rate GNs on how well done the graphics are. When I read something, it's solely for the text. I will say that if Thrash decides to do a sequel/something similar, I hope she leaves the artwork to someone else.

With that out of the way, HONOR GIRL is Thrash's memoir about her teenage years at Camp Bellflower, an all-girls conservative camp that has been around for 100+ years. When Maggie is 15, she begins to realize things have changed. A conflicting moment brings confusion to the surface & Maggie is left grappling with her feelings for one of the camp counselors, Erin. But Camp Bellflower is not the place for such things (*ahh, cue the homophobia!*) & Maggie doesn't know what to do. Now each woman is left stranded, holding the remains of the heart they must not let anyone see beat. Eventually, everything becomes so overwhelming, it must come to an abrupt end.

A sad coming-of-age tale & a quick, enjoyable read. The pacing was even (minus the ending) & I could feel Maggie's pain & confusion as she tried to figure things out on her own. I would definitely recommend this, if you can overlook the horrible drawings & take the text for what it is.
Profile Image for Jenni.
261 reviews224 followers
February 7, 2017
Oh god. This book. I wish I could go back in time and hand this to 17 year old me. I don't have words to express my feelings about this book and how very deeply I relate. Such a heart felt and real picture of what it feels like to be a teenager coming to terms with your sexuality. The fears, the doubts, need to talk. This was everything. I know I'll read this again and again.
Profile Image for jess.
852 reviews75 followers
December 11, 2015
well. I read this book. now I feel incredibly fucked up and sad. why is it so hard to be young and fall in love with a cute girl at summer camp?

so, you should read it too. but don't talk to me about it. I plan on blocking out the intensity of these feelings ASAP.
Profile Image for ellie.
549 reviews161 followers
June 30, 2019
4.5 out of 5 stars. I really, really liked this. I think it felt honest and understandable, especially as a gay girl, and it felt realistic. A teenager who’s struggling with herself and her feelings for a girl. Both things she had never even though about before. And reading it in graphic novel form, too, i think made it more realistic and relatable? like I could picture myself sitting in a corner questioning things. I just wish it didn’t end so abruptly and like, open. I don’t know.

What was I doing before? Was I just...floating along? Maybe I was better off that way. Because what’s ironic is that being in love doesn’t actually make you happy. It makes it impossible to be happy. You’re carrying this desire now. Maybe if you knew where it came from, you could put it back. But you don’t.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
June 7, 2015
This is a sweet graphic memoir about one summer at camp and falling in love. I've really loved the recent growth of graphic memoirs/novels that explore gender and sexuality, among other really tough issues, and this one fits squarely and nicely within it.

Because this is Thrash's story, it's set in 2000, so the references are straight from that era (boy bands, for one, including a reference to O-Town's "Liquid Dreams"). It doesn't feel like it's nostalgia for nostalgia's sake; it works because it's a memoir and those were part of the summer camp of 2000 experience.

I didn't get to see the final art, which will be color, and I think that will make the art even more appealing (in black and white, it was a little difficult to tell the different girls apart).

Readers who dug THIS ONE SUMMER or TOMBOY will definitely eat this up.
Profile Image for Jamie Peterson.
14 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2016
This was a sweet memoir I nearly did not get a hold of due to my dislike of the art style at first. That bit sort of grew on me.
Thrash really captures what it was like to be 15, as well as finding yourself and learning that in life some things just end. I think a lot of people dislike the ending but it's based on real life events and I think it felt appropriate and had a sense of letting go. I particularly felt enamored by the very last page.

I enjoyed the camp narrations, the relationships between all of the girls, and the hesitancy shown on behalf of Erin that Thrash noticed. It was a bittersweet, but wholly satisfying read!
Profile Image for Camden Johnson.
266 reviews28 followers
January 4, 2020
I picked this up at the library after loving Maggie Thrash's series "Strange Lies." This story is quite different than that series since this is a true story about a girl growing up and realizing that she's a lesbian. This story was painfully accurate in how we won't always get a conclusion and how difficult love can be. The artstyle was very unique and it grew on me throughout the story. My only problem was at times the characters looked too much alike which made me confused. I thought this was a pretty decent read.
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book2,120 followers
June 3, 2022
It's hard to understand how such a simple story in which almost nothing happens can also be a story in which everything happens. Like most true things the story takes place between conversations, in the words not said, and in stillness, between one moment and the next.
Profile Image for Brett Orr.
Author 2 books62 followers
July 26, 2015
Read more reviews like this on my blog!

I'm going to be honest - before reading Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash, I had never heard the word 'graphic memoir' before. I've read my fair share of graphic novels - both American comic books and Japanese manga - but neither of those prepared me for the visual and narrative style of Thrash's debut book.

When it comes to reviewing graphic novels/books of any form, it's important to talk about the art style as much as the story itself. The pictures and scene flow plays as much, or perhaps an even greater part, than the narrative. Honor Girl is a curious book - it has neither the hyper-realism that's so distinctive of American comics, nor the sharp lines and contrasting black-and-white dichotomy of manga; instead, the visual style is simple and almost childlike. The art-style of colored pencils with water-color backgrounds is evocative of a middle-grade or high-school art project, and perfectly marries with the young teenage narrator.

The character design is minimalist, the scene flow relatively natural with a few full-page spreads to show the scale of Camp Bellflower, where the majority of the memoir takes place. Unfortunately the vague character outlines make it difficult to keep track of many of the side characters, as the difference between the girls is mainly determined by hair color and style - after a little while it becomes hard to remember them all.

At its core, Honor Girl is a heartbreaking story of Maggie Thrash's own journey through self-discovery and the realization of her lesbianism. At times the book is heartwarming and endearing, championing friendship and the importance of acceptance; at others it's a scathing indictment of homophobic bias and prejudice. Interspersed is some rather dry humor that perfectly delivers an amusing laugh right when it's most needed.

I read this book in a day, mostly because it's simply so easy to read. There is an appeal about graphic novels that's hard to deny - it often feels like we have a stronger bond with our character because, at the end of the day, humans are visual creatures. Despite some shaky perspective work, the graphical style works well with our main character's age and personal journey.

There are some cute anachronisms too - despite being set in the year 2000, the characters are seen reading Harry Potter novels that wouldn't be released for many years after; and the references to the Backstreet Boys are perfectly on-point. It all ties back together to deliver a very bittersweet ending, proving that this is, at the heart of it, a memoir - and that not all memories are happy ones.
The Good
A fun, quirky graphic memoir that is instantly approachable and very enjoyable to read.

The Bad
Some shaky perspectives and over-minimalistic character designs that can make it hard to distinguish some of the minor characters.

The Verdict
A heartbreaking memoir interspersed with brief moments of aching sincerity and dry humor. Honor Girl paints a simple, but agonizingly real story about a young girl's rocky journey of sexual self-discovery.

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