Audacity by Melanie Crowder is a novel (based on a true story) told entirely in verse.  I’m not always the biggest fan of books in verse, so I was a little hesitant about this book.  However, my interest was piqued when I realized that this was (inspired by) the story of Clara Lemlich.  I had read a picture book about her with my students, and was looking forward to seeing what further information there was in a longer book (and one that is for older readers).

This turned out to be a great read!  I still wanted more info when it was done (0ne of my problems with books in verse is that they always seem too short to me and I am left wanting more!).  But I appreciated the additional information at the end that explained more about the historical parts of the book.  It was also really interesting to read the interviews with Clara’s family members at the end, and to have this important historical figure be presented through the eyes of children and grandchildren.  It made her very human!

Melanie Crowder
Author Melanie Crowder

The words in Audacity, as well as their placement on the page, are obviously very carefully chosen.  Because the story is told in verse, each word is important, and there are no extras.  In addition, the form of verse fits this novel well.  It seems that the more confined form of the writing is fitting for the story of a girl who is confined in her role – first at home, not being allowed books; then in America, having to work to support her family even though she is young enough to be in school; then at work, not being treated fairly by her bosses.  The carefully chosen words also seem important for a girl who loves books and education and who understands the power of words.


Honor Girl

Honor Girl

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash is a graphic memoir of one summer of the author’s life spent at her annual camp.  I really loved this book!  The relatively simple drawings portrayed an enormous amount of feeling, and even though this is not usually the style I am drawn to, it is the absolute perfect fit for this story.  Maggie was able to create amazing facial expressions with a small number of lines, and I really felt the emotion through the pages.

I think this book is a great way to get teens interested in memoir if they aren’t already – for one thing, the graphic novel format is so accessible and engaging.  For another, the story is sweet (and a little bit bittersweet) and very relatable.  This book would also be a good introduction into writing memoir; showing how you can take the events of one period in your life and weave them into a story.

Maggie Thrash
Author Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl is a wonderful example of a graphic novel – the words and images work beautifully together and the panels flow well from one to the next.  I think it is especially important in the case of this particular one that Maggie Thrash both wrote and illustrated it.  Since it is autobiographical, it seems she was able to infuse so much of herself into the words and images, and that helped to make them go together seamlessly.  There is a lot that is conveyed in images alone.

The colors and palette of the images also complement the story well, and give the whole thing a sort of dreamy haze of memories, while still letting the reader feel present in the story.

I am a huge fan of graphic novels, and this one has quickly become one of my favorites.  I would definitely recommend this as part of any teen library collection (and think it’s fantastic for adults, too!).