Written and Illustrated by Vera Brosgol
First Second, 2018. Graphic Novel. 244 p.
Vera is a nine year old girl who feels "too poor," "too Russian" and "too different" to fit in with her wealthy, suburban classmates in Albany. When Vera hears about a Russian summer camp she's eager to sign up, hopeful to be around kids who are a little more like her for once. It turns out that Orthodox Russian camp is an alienating place to be, with all the hazards of summer camp (mean older girls, a gross outhouse, bugs) combined with Russian history classes, uniforms, and church services in the pouring rain. For the most part, Vera has a hard, lonely summer in the middle of the woods. This makes her eventual successes even more triumphant.
This semi-autobiographical graphic novel is very funny and very honest. It can be really difficult to make friends and Brosgol does not shy away from this fact. Well paced, beautifully illustrated, emotional, poignant, and hilarious, Be Prepared is a great choice for older readers, especially fans of Raina Telgemeier's graphic novels. But it is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever had trouble fitting in.