Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
The author of The Rock and the River returns with another amazing book. Ella is not part of the popular crowd at school. In fact, she is the lowest of the low. Teased by about her uneven skin coloring, some of her classmates call her Camo Face, Ella has trouble even looking at herself in the mirror. She has her best friend, Z, who has been her friend for many years, but Z is getting stranger and stranger, losing himself in stories and roles. Now there is a new boy at school, a boy who doesn’t seem to notice Ella’s skin at all. He brings her a way into the popular world, but how can she leave Z to fend for himself? This novel speaks to issues of race, bullying, friendship and differences, never shying away from asking very difficult questions.
Magoon’s writing here is superb. Her writing is at times filled with such longing and ache that it enters your bones. Other times it soars, lifting readers along with it, demonstrating that anything is possible. She illuminates the darkness of bullying, but this book is about so much more than that. It is about the tenderness of long friendship. It is about the hope of the new. It is about the beauty of difference. It is about the strength of self.
Ella is a great character who is gripped with such self-doubt that it is almost despair. Yet she continues on, watching out for Z, caring for her family, and even hoping that the new boy’s smile might be just for her. Beautifully, her transformation in the book is less about her changing and more about her perceptions changing about herself and those around her. It is a powerful and important distinction.
Highly recommended, this is an amazing book for tweens looking for a book that has depth, power and strength. Appropriate for ages 9-13.
Reviewed from copy received from Aladdin.