Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: This One Summer

Title: This One Summer
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Recommended Age Group: 16+
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: NetGalley

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.

This One Summer is a gorgeous story about growing up. It's about the special places that hold our best memories, and how they change as we get older. About learning to deal with emotions that feel foreign and scary. It's even about facing the stereotypes that young girls are bombarded with the minute that they're old enough to understand them. This graphic novel is full of heart, and I happily lost myself in it from beginning to end.

First off, let me gush about the illustrations. I thought they were just perfect for the story they represented. Rose and her friend Windy start out depicted as beautifully carefree. The reader follows them as they race across the sand, spend hours floating in the ocean, and visit the corner store for ice cream on a hot day. The epitome of a childhood dream vacation. Slowly, as Rose's story takes us into her new reality as a budding teenager, things in the panels start to look a little bit more gritty. A little messier. It's a slight change, but it makes all the difference when you're immersed in the story.

I think that's what I was most impressed about reading this graphic novel. It isn't afraid to touch on the things that are a little darker in life. Rose's childhood memories of her favorite summer home are still there, lurking in the periphery. It's just that they aren't quite the same as they were before. She sees the things hiding underneath now. That her mom is just a little too quiet. That her dad had to mysteriously go into town for a few days. That her summer best friend isn't quite the same as she used to be.

There is so much hiding in This One Summer. I wish I could better express to you the layers that this story holds, but it'd be too easy to accidentally spoil the journey for you. Suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this graphic novel, and I'd happily have read more. I'm a fan of stories about the journey of growing up and finding yourself. This one was a marvelous ride.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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