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Be Prepared: 08/04/18
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol is a middle grade graphic novel inspired by the author's two summers spent a Russian Orthodox summer camp. For narrative simplicity, the two years have been condensed into one summer as explained in the afterword.
Vera has her group of friends and she loves the sleepovers one of them hosts every year. This year, though, Vera feels left behind. The other girls all have fancy dolls and the many things that go with them. Vera, though, doesn't because her single mother can't possibly afford something so expensive.
Although she has an awkward time at the sleepover, Vera decides she can do her own special sleep over at their apartment. It goes even worse and the girls all end up going home early. By now, Vera feels very much out of step with all the other girls at her school.
The one place Vera feels part of something is at the church services (even though she speaks limited Russian and can't read it). It's through church that she learns about a summer camp for Russian Orthodox kids. Best of all, it's free!
The remainder of the book is about Vera and her brother's time in camp. It wasn't the paradise she thought it would be and for a good portion of it, she wanted to go home. But she did find her place, made friends, and came out a better person for it.
Throughout we have the author's fantastic illustrations that will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier. They are just the right balance of realistic and humorous.
The book happens to end with a hook involving the family moving. I hope this means there will be the further adventures of Vera and her family.