Rookies, I’m really psyched to share this excerpt from my graphic memoir, Honor Girl, which comes out today! To describe the book in the most tawdry and titillating way possible, I’d say, “It’s the story of forbidden love at a sizzling all-girls Christian camp!” Which it definitely is. But beyond that, it’s about getting slammed with love for the first time, and realizing you’ll never be the same again. It’s also about figuring out the reality that love doesn’t necessarily feel like a whimsical dance sequence, but more like lying at the bottom of a pit where you’ll probably starve and die.
Anyway! I chose a graphic format to tell this story because speaking through comics feels a lot more natural and efficient to me than just using words. The best part is that you don’t have to explain yourself, you just present yourself. “There I am. This is what I look like. This is the kind of stuff I say and do.” By treating yourself as a character, you avoid the pitfall of being mired in your own weird perspective.
So this is Chapter Four, “Freaks.” At this point in the story, I don’t even know Erin—you’ll meet her soon—that well. She’s a counselor, she’s kind of outdoorsy, she plays guitar. She’s touched my head during a lice inspection. She’s said to me, “You have pretty hair.” That’s pretty much the extent of our interaction so far. But I’m in love with her. I haven’t told ANYONE. Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the Appalachian Mountains, is about 100 years old and is basically untouched by time. If there are any gay people here, they are deep undercover.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the camp’s rifle range, trying to distract myself by going for a big rifle award called the Distinguished Expert. Riflery is the one camp activity where you’re pretty much on your own. It’s a very mental sport; to excel, all you need is concentration and confidence. The downside is that it’s really easy to psych yourself out and lose your skill, which you’ll see happening to my main shooting rival in this chapter. As for me, I’m just trying to get through the day and keep my mouth shut about my feelings for Erin. I don’t know what will happen if anyone finds out. Maybe it will be fine! Or maybe I’ll be kicked out of camp. I just have no idea, because the conversation about what LGTBQ kids are supposed to do in this environment hasn’t even begun. —Maggie Thrash
Honor Girl is available now through Candlewick Press.