Camo Girl

Camo Girl

by Kekla Magoon

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

A biracial student questions her identity in this contemporary novel from the author of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptor Award–winning The Rock and the River.

Ella and Z have been friends forever, both of them middle-school outsiders in their Las Vegas suburb. Ella is the only black girl in her grade and gets teased for the mottled colors of her face. (Her deceased father was white.) Z is the classic “weird kid” who maintains an elaborate—and public—fantasy life, starring himself as a brave knight. Though Z is content with his imagined world, Ella wishes for a larger group of friends, so she’s thrilled when Bailey, another black kid, arrives at their school. He’s popular and wants to befriend Ella—but to join the cool crowd, Ella would have to ditch Z. Does she stay loyal to the boy who has been her best and only friend for years, or jump at the chance to realize her dream of popularity?
Author Kekla Magoon deftly navigates the muddy waters of racial and cultural identities in this contemporary exploration of one girl’s attempt to find herself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416978053
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 06/05/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 218
Sales rank: 205,664
Product dimensions: 5.26(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range: 8 - 14 Years

About the Author

Kekla Magoon has worked with youth-serving nonprofit organizations in New York City and Chicago. She holds an MFA in writing for children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and her first novel, The Rock and the River, won the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. She resides in New York City and you can visit her at KeklaMagoon.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I call him zachariah. he calls me eleanor, but the way he says it, it comes out sounding like Ellie-nor.

These are not our real names.

Most people, the sort of people who don’t need extra names, can get away with doing simple things like looking in a mirror or taking a bathroom pass out of the cafeteria in the middle of lunch hour. We are not most people.

Z and I have learned how not to see the things we don’t want to. It’s not that hard, but it makes us seem strange to everybody else. Z, especially, is . . . different . . . from the other kids in our class. Good different, as far as I’m concerned, but the kind of different that makes other people raise their eyebrows and sort of laugh under their breath, as if he’s not to be believed.

I’ve been gone maybe five minutes, but it’s too long. Heading back toward our table, I can almost hear that silly Sesame Street song humming in the air, converging on him. “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong . . .”

Z’s in trouble. I’m walking toward him and I see it, know I should never have left him alone, but some things can’t be helped. Our eyes lock across the room, and there’s nothing in his gaze but stark terror. I should never have left him alone.

Zachariah. Eleanor.

These are not our real names. These are our shadow names, our armor, our cloaks. They are larger than we can ever hope to be; they cause things to bounce off us so we can never be hurt. By anyone. Anything. Ever.

It doesn’t always work.

“Zachariah!” I practically scream it, running toward him.

“Ellie-nor,” he says, gazing at me with alarm.

These are not our real names, but none of that matters now. For the moment I simply throw my arms up over his head to stop the food from hitting him.

Spaghetti with mystery meat sauce.

Tiny rolling peas.

Vanilla pudding with cookies.

A carton of chocolate milk, unopened, thank goodness.

Z’s whole tray overturned by laughing hands. The bulk of it catches me in my shoulders, neck, and back.

Beneath me, Z sits stock still, clean but immobile, gazing innocently at the blank space of the table in front of him. He survived.

This, this is my superpower. My only power, to protect him. He wouldn’t understand what had happened. He would pretend not to see. Then he’d make up a story about how he had to crawl through a tunnel lined with bloody, mangled earthworms to get to freedom. He would smile, gooey strings of pasta hanging from his hair, and murmur, “All in a day’s work.”

Jonathan Hoffman tosses the soiled green tray onto the tabletop. He smiles at me in that way that is so infuriating. Is he proud of himself? As if no one else in the history of time ever thought to dump a lunch tray on someone’s head.

“Way to take the bullet, C. F.,” he says.

My face flushes with rage. I stand with my hands on my hips, ignoring the fact that I’m the one dripping with red sauce and noodles. I am Eleanor, Goddess of Everything, fearless in the face of danger.

“Do you ever get tired of being a gigantic jerk?” I snap.

Jonathan stretches lazily. “My work is exhausting,” he says, then saunters off to accept the high fives from his table of cronies.

I sink into the seat beside Z and let my head fall onto the table.

“Ellie-nor,” he says. “Ellie-nor.”

His small hand covers mine. I manage to look up, into his close-to-tearful face.

“Ellie-nor,” he says, but I’m not her anymore. Now I’m just Ella. Plain old everyday Ella, the girl with drying pasta goo in her hair, on her skin and clothes. I think some of the peas rolled into my shoe. Little cold mush balls sitting in there.

“You fought the dragon and won,” Z says. “You fought the dragon and won.”

I smile sadly. “Yeah, I did.”

Z taps the table in a drumming rhythm. “Brave, brave, fair lady. You fought the dragon and won.”

It’ll work for him to pretend. Z’s not like other kids. He knows what happened, but he can’t admit what it was, what it means about us in the real world. He believes, really believes, that we sit alone at lunch by choice.

I shove my own lunch tray toward him. “Eat this,” I say. “I’m really not hungry. Anyway, I have to go change.”

Z’s hand falls on my sleeve, tugging me to stay with him.

“You would cast aside this badge of honor?” His eyes bug out, incredulous. “You fought the dragon and won!”

Sighing, I unwrap the napkin from his spork and use it to wipe my neck. I left him alone once already today. So, I sit here, watching him eat—he polishes off everything on the tray and some of what fell on the table—until the end-of-lunch bell rings.

People look at me funny as they clear their trays, but it’s not only because of the food mess. They’d be looking, anyway. If Z and I were business-minded, we’d build a wall around our table, and a window. We could charge admission for each single peek in. We’d either make a fortune or be left alone. Win-win.

I try to become Eleanor again. Smile as they pass, like I know something they don’t. Make them uncomfortable.

“Ellie-nor.” Z reaches up under his shirt and pulls out two fluffy rolls. On spaghetti day, you have to pay ten cents extra for rolls. Z does not have ten cents, let alone twenty. He hands me one.

“Thanks,” I say, accepting the stolen roll. The lunch ladies don’t pay enough attention. Not when we go through the line, and not when we get food dumped on us. I guess it’s only fair.

I keep two changes of clothes in my locker. It’s important to be prepared for occasions like this. I keep an extra shirt for Z, too, but he’d never actually use it. He meant what he said about the badge of honor. I go along with a lot of his fantasies, but I can’t quite get on board with that one.

Z’s waiting outside the girls’ bathroom for me. He observes my change with large, thoughtful eyes. Then he pushes up his glasses with his pebble of a fist, ready to move on. I tug at the hem of my clean shirt, feeling guilty. Maybe it’s a form of surrender, I don’t know. I haven’t figured it out yet. What the right thing to do is when things fall out of the sky and hit you.

© 2011 Kekla Magoon

Customer Reviews

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Camo Girl 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Adrionna Mcdonald More than 1 year ago
Omg i thouht i would not like this book and i had to do it for a school project and i took a night just to read it and i was like omg every one should read tthis so if you cant guess ILOVE THIS BOOK and so i really think that if you love a kinda romantic book read this book i think you would love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so... just so unexplainable. I loved it so much! The relationship between "Eleanor" and "Zachariah" is so strong and lovable. I absolutely adore Ella's personality and sincerety throughout the story. Thumbs up to Kekla Magoon!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do baily and ella kiss at the end ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It is about a girl named Elanor who gets trapped between two worlds. Between Bailey James and Zachariah. Bailey is very popular and likes Elanor but Zachariah has been her BFF for a long time. I reccomend this book to anyone. It is fantastic. It is soo worth your money!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is marvolus. I endearly encourage you to read it because it tells you all about a girls life without her dad. And the bullying she goes throu and Bailly James changes it all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely positively love this book!! I recommend it to anyone and everyone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like become a camo girl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The greatest book EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such an amazing book. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in books about friendship and overcoming obstacles, or anyone really.... Spectacular story-line!
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
Review title: Who Are You, Truly? Readers learn the importance and need for true friendship and loyalty. A worth while novel for exploring the need for intervention when necessary as well as when to seek assistance for delicate situations. This novel assists readers to accept themselves as they are along with accepting others and knowing when changes are needed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The est book ever !!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am the same person who said they were 1/3 done of the book and i JUST finished the book like 30 seconds ago and this is my FAVORITE book ever. I love it so much and the story isnt what u would think it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for summer reading for school, and i loved it! I liked how it showed how kids or older kids, teens, can have a really close bond even if one kids has mental issues and the other doesnt. I also liked how it a little bit of romance in it i would read this book a million times because i love it so much! I would recomend this to all kids including adults!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It was awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book