When I was growing up in the Midwest, instead of going to the beach in the summer, most of the families I knew went to a lake. Some families went for the entire summer, and others for just a couple of weeks. Whether on a small lake or a Great Lake, vacation in my part of the country involved some combination of swimming, sailing, fishing, and water skiing.
In This One Summer, a graphic novel by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, Rose Wallace and her parents arrive at the lake for their annual vacation. Awago Beach has always been a happy place, but this year Rose is growing up, and not even lazy days with her summer friend Windy can keep the adult world at bay.
- The plot. Rose is on the brink between being a kid and being a teen, and everything is changing. Her parents aren't getting along, and Windy, who's a year younger, can be a little babyish. To make matters worse, Rose has a crush on the older boy who works at the local store, but she doesn't quite know how to approach him. Before the two weeks are up, Rose learns some hard lessons about boys, relationships, her mother, and what it means to be a woman.
- What I loved. This One Summer is a coming-of-age story that's easy to relate to. Even though I haven't faced many of the issues confronting Rose, I remember what it was like to be an adolescent. That summer Rose dealt with much more than hormones. Her relationship with Windy was jeopardized because of their age difference, her mother always seemed to be sad and Rose didn't know why, and the real-world problems of the local teenagers were confusing and scary. Through words and drawings, Tamaki and Tamaki brought Rose to life, and my heart went out to the young teen.
- Issues and themes. The story touches on growing up, friendship, women, mothers and daughters, children and motherhood, relationships, responsibility, depression, traditions, and family. Although This One Summer is a quick read and a graphic novel, it could easily be a book club selection for either teens or adults. There are a number of specific issues that could generate a good discussion, but I'll leave them for you to discover so I don't spoil the book.
- The artwork. The black-and-white drawings range from as simple as the cover art to detailed scenes in the store, in the woods, or on the beach. The facial expressions and body movements convey much of the emotion, which helped solidify my connection to Rose. To see inside the book, visit Macmillan's website (note that the artwork looks blue on their site).
- Bullet take. In This One Summer, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki tapped the emotional vein of adolescence that still runs in all of us to create an enduring coming-of-age-story.
Source: Review (see review policy)
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