…Thrash writes with confidence and skill remarkable for a debut…she offsets heartache with sharp humor, sincere but never cloying. Period details…place the story at the turn of the millennium, though the feelings involved are timeless. In addition to being an ace writer…Thrash shows an impressive grasp of the language of comics. Page layouts are clean and clever…Though simply drawn, the artwork is by no means lazy. There is thought in every watercolored panel, the spare expressions and body language filling in the blanks when the characters aren't speaking. This is what comics are for…Thrash captures the way summer camp is exempt from time and reality. Things stay there, wrapped up in the smells of old canvas and canoe sheds, even as you desperately try to take them with you.
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Newcomer Thrash’s graphic storytelling style, with its blank-eyed, manga-esque characters, might surprise readers accustomed to more polish. The good news is that her dialogue is so smart and snappy that a few pages in, they’ll find it doesn’t matter. Thrash portrays her 15-year-old self as a cynical Atlanta pre-cotillion deb who has been attending the same Appalachian sleepaway camp for years. Everything changes when a random caress from an older counselor, Erin, awakens a storm of desire. Maggie is unprepared for the turmoil of first love, and the camp is, to put it mildly, unwelcoming to teens questioning their sexuality. “Apparently they were on the tennis court,” two campers gossip. “Blythe said they were pretty much doing it with a racket.” Thrash writes with an intoxicating mix of candor, irony, and fresh passion. Much of the memoir’s piquancy comes from the collisions between the camp’s ideal of Southern womanhood, the campers’ clannishness, and Maggie’s faith in herself as she becomes, incongruously, the camp’s best rifle shot. This is the kind of memoir that stays with readers for days. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Sept.)
In this graphic memoir, Thrash writes with confidence and skill remarkable for a debut.
—The New York Times
Thrash's remembrances are evinced with clear, wide-eyed illustrations colored with a dreamily vibrant palette. She has so carefully and skillfully captured a universal moment—the first time one realizes that things will never be the same—that readers will find her story captivating. A luminescent memoir not to be missed.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In this poignant memoir, Thrash examines a pivotal summer, marked by first love, self-discovery, and some difficult realizations...The tone is spot-on, varying from funny and quirky to quiet and contemplative, and Thrash seamlessly weaves in light, turn-of-the-millennium pop culture touchstones like the Backstreet Boys with darker historical references (the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy)... An insightful and thought-provoking work.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Thrash writes with an intoxicating mix of candor, irony, and fresh passion. Much of the memoir’s piquancy comes from the collisions between the camp’s ideal of Southern womanhood, the campers’ clannishness, and Maggie’s faith in herself as she becomes, incongruously, the camp’s best rifle shot. This is the kind of memoir that stays with readers for days.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Thrash's unvarnished retelling of her adolescent experience is neither glamourizing nor self-deprecating—and the salty realism makes the story engrossing and quite funny. Though lesbian and questioning teens may be especially responsive to the narrative, any young reader will see in Maggie and her friends a relatable sort of confident confusion.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
This honest, raw, and touching graphic memoir will resonate with teens coming to terms with identities of all stripes, regardless of sexual orientation.
This is immediately engrossing, both poignant and hilarious, as the personable and likeable Maggie nails typical adolescent experiences with particularly wicked camp descriptions. While loosely based on the author’s circumstances, Maggie’s portrayal of her first love and heartbreak is everyone’s story, whether gay or straight, male or female. Maggie’s emotions are sharply honest, with readers feeling her exhilaration, anxiety, awkwardness, confusion, and pain.
In this graphic novel, deceptively simple drawings in a mostly dreamy palette work well to capture big, sweeping emotions of the camp experience...
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Readers may recognize themselves in Maggie’s halting steps toward adulthood and self-awareness...
Thrash's graphic memoir presents a love story with which every reader will be able to identify...Honor Girl will be a page-turner leaving readers with many unresolved questions, a scenario familiar to LGBT and straight teens alike.
—School Library Connection
[Wipes away tear.] Honor Girl is, all at once, heartachey (but never precious), dry-witted (but not cynical), and incredibly beautiful. Maggie Thrash has not only given us a unique addition to the canon of intelligent-young-woman-centered comics, but a reminder of the rewards of opening yourself up and exposing your own vulnerability – in love and in writing.
Though I am neither a teenage girl nor a lesbian, I found this story super-real and relatable.
—Ira Glass, host of This American Life
Honest, funny, and so real you can smell summer camp while you read it, Maggie Thrash’s Honor Girl hits dead center.
—A.S. King, award-winning author of Ask the Passengers and Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
Honor Girl beautifully portrays the awkward excitement and heartbreak of first and forbidden love. I couldn’t put it down, even while my heart was aching. I loved this book!
—Jo Knowles, author of See You at Harry’s and Read Between the Lines
Graphic memoirs are my JAM, and I love this coming-of-age story from Maggie Thrash. It recounts Thrash’s experiences at a Christian summer camp as a teenager, and her basically trying to figure out if something was wrong with her because she was attracted to girls. It sounds sad, but Thrash keeps it from being depressing with her lively story and honesty.
—Book Riot (blog)
Gr 9 Up—In this poignant memoir, Thrash examines a pivotal summer, marked by first love, self-discovery, and some difficult realizations. At age 15, Maggie returned to Camp Bellflower for Girls, a Christian camp located in Kentucky that she'd been attending for years, and fell in love with Erin, an older counselor. She encountered hostility from narrow-minded fellow campers and adults alike, both for her same-sex attraction and for her general refusal to toe the line when she proved to be a more skilled marksman than another girl. Although she long aspired to be named Honor Girl (a distinction that each year went to the girl who most exemplified the camp's spirit), she soon began to see her seemingly fun-filled, carefree world as tight and constricting and to realize she possessed the power to forge her own identity. Like Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, authors of This One Summer (First Second, 2014), Thrash has a gift for imbuing everyday, slice-of-life moments with deeper meaning, and she effortlessly conveys the awkwardness of coming into one's own. The tone is spot-on, varying from funny and quirky to quiet and contemplative, and Thrash seamlessly weaves in light, turn-of-the-millennium pop culture touchstones like the Backstreet Boys with darker historical references (the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy). Brief interludes of heartfelt, intimately wrought text appear alongside or in between panels, and the art is raw, sketchbooklike. Readers will feel as though they're opening a scrapbook or journal rather than a more formal autobiography. VERDICT An insightful and thought-provoking work.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Thrash chronicles one monumental summer at an all-girls' camp where she experienced her gut-wrenching first love. Every summer, Maggie, an Atlanta native, attends Camp Bellflower, an all-girls' camp in Kentucky, complete with tents, shooting, and Civil War re-enactments that have been a camp tradition for nearly 100 years. The summer that she turns 15, however, she falls in love for the first time. She meets Erin, a 19-year-old counselor who studies astronomy and plays guitar. Her summer is filled with the usual camp melodrama, although along with the everyday banalities, Maggie must try to hide what she's feeling toward Erin. Rumors thrum throughout the camp about girls who are whispered to be lesbians, leading to their eventual ostracism; Maggie, though honest with both herself and a confidante, tries to avoid her own social exile. Thrash perfectly captures all the feelings of an adolescent first love: the insecurities, the awkwardness, and self-doubts along with the soaring, intense highs of proximity. Thrash's remembrances are evinced with clear, wide-eyed illustrations colored with a dreamily vibrant palette. She has so carefully and skillfully captured a universal moment—the first time one realizes that things will never be the same—that readers will find her story captivating. A luminescent memoir not to be missed. (Graphic memoir. 13 & up)