I absolutely, positively loved Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon. I was sad when I got to the end; I wanted to spend more time with Ella, Bailey, and Z. Camo Girl is not a light read--it touches on very serious topics, including bullying, mental illness, homelessness, gambling addiction, poor self image, and loss of loved ones. Somehow, Kekla Magoon has woven these elements into a satisfying, warm, and uplifting story (even if it did make me cry).
Warning: There are spoilers below. But even if you know what's coming, this book is well worth the read.
Camo Girl is narrated in the first person by Ella, a biracial girl with vitiligo, nicknamed Camo Face by school bullies. Ella’s best friend, Z, is a small, white boy who has been slipping into a fantasy world since his father left and his mother lost their home. Z has built an elaborate make-believe in which he is Sir Zachariah, a noble knight, and Ella is the fair and brave Lady Eleanor. Though Ella knows it’s not real, she plays along. Z may be weird, but having a friend better than being alone. And besides, he needs her; he’d never survive middle school on his own. Being teased isn’t easy, but Ella manages to be comfortable with the status quo--until a new boy transfers in. Bailey is the only other black student in their school. He’s cool, popular, athletic, cute … everything Ella is not. And yet he actually seems to like her--or maybe he just wants permission to use the basketball hoop in her driveway. Whatever the reason, the two form a tentative friendship. Z doesn’t respond well to this new development, and Ella feels conflicted. When Z goes missing, she’s determined to track him down--even if it means lying, borrowing money, and running away to Vegas.
Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays is a meme started by the wonderful Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. If you want to join the fun, e-mail Shannon Messenger at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com.with a link to your blog and the title of the middle grade book you're featuring. Put MMGM in the subject line. Please email her by Sunday night to be mentioned in her Monday post. Visit Shannon's blog for more details and for a list of participants with links.