Maggie is a Backstreet Boys-obsessed, Harry Potter-devouring fifteen year old in the year 2000. She has attended the same summer camp, Camp Bellflower, every year. Camp Bellflower is nestled in the Ozarks. In many ways, the camp is a bastion of a bygone era: all the girls are white and Christian, and each morning starts with a Civil War re-enactment.
Maggie doesn’t expect anything to change until suddenly everything does. A routine lice inspection from an older female counselor, Erin, draws Maggie into a deep and gut-wrenching love for the older counselor. Most amazingly, to Maggie, is the possibility that Erin might feel the same way. But even as the two become closer, Maggie can’t forget that conservative Camp Bellflower is not an acceptable place for two girls to fall in love.
The art in it is beautiful – Thrash used watercolor pencils, and the glow is a perfect match for the hazy summer setting.
Maggie is a great character — she is sarcastic and funny and so real. I loved her obsession with the Backstreet Boys (Kevin is her favorite), because what fifteen year old in 2000 didn’t love them? I also loved that she was always reading Harry Potter — I remember being at summer camp and seeing those books gets passed around like crazy! Her friends are great, too, and surprisingly supportive when they learn about her crush. That was refreshing.
It’s kind of hard to review the plot of a memoir because, well, it’s real life. Erin and Maggie have so many moments of missed connections and almost-kisses that it frustrating to read. But that’s sort of like real life, isn’t it? But I found the ending really unsatisfying. For the second half of the book, I felt like I was waiting for the big crescendo, and it never came. I don’t know if you could say this book really has a climax, and the plot falters when the summer ends. I know life doesn’t always work itself into rising action/climax/falling action, but I do think memoirs should still follow a basic literary structure. Ultimately, it felt like there was something missing. Actually, this illustration from the book pretty much summed up how I felt after finishing it: