Ella has recently started the 6th grade and everything has changed. Before Ella was best friends with Zachary and Millie. Now Millie has moved on, leaving Ella and Zachary to be the outcast. Both are teased for different reasons. Ella because she's the only Black girl in her class. The taunts are worse because Ella has white splotches on her face. Some of Ella's classmates call her camo face.
Zachary is picked on for always creating imaginary worlds. Sometimes Ella plays along. Zachary becomes Zachariah, and Ella becomes Eleanor. These new personalities can handle the taunts.
Ella's voice is strong and realistic. Author's are asking a lot of their main characters when they are required to carry the story. There are other well rounded characters like Zachary, Ella's grandmother and mother but in the end it comes back to Ella and she carries the story with ease.
When Bailey James, a new kid starts at school, I felt Ella's loneliness of being the only Black student.
"Bailey James. I say his name in my mind a few times. First to myself, then as if to others:Yeah, Bailey James. You, know, the other black kid. The other black kid. Bailey James is looking around the room. I haven't had time to worry what he'll think. I'm too shocked, too busy looking. to try to hid my face. His glance lands on me moves on. Returns. Moves on. Returns. My heart is all but leaping. Then his face breaks. Bailey James smiles at me. Actually smiles. Then he gives this little nod as if to say. Yeah, I'm here. You're not alone. I lay my head on the desk, in case I start to cry." (arc)
I love that Magoon doesn't ignore race and nor is it the focal point. Ella being the only Black student is just a part of the story. There's so much more going on, like Ella missing her father, wishing her mother didn't have to travel for work, or being self conscious about her face.
It seems that Ella and Zachary have nothing in common with the very popular Bailey. In the end Magoon reveals a common thread that will touch readers hearts. Ella lives with her grandmother while her mother is traveling for work. One of my favorite parts of the story is the three women family dynamic when the mother is home. Camo Girl is simply a very good and well told story.