Friday, 22 July 2016

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator)

2016 Top Ten Read

Publication date: 6th May 2014
Published by: First Second
Genre: Contemporary fiction (Pre-teen & YA)

Publication synopsis
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.

Sooz Book Reviews Gold Seal of Approval
My Review
This One Summer is a multi-award winning graphic novel including the Michael L Printz award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.  

The main protagonist is Rose, a girl who has spent all her summers at Awago Beach since she was 5 years old.  Her age is not revealed in the story but I would say she is about 12.  With each visit she is reunited with her friend Windy who is about 10.

If I were to describe this graphic novel in one word it would be endearing.  There is no plot as such, and if I were asked to describe what it is about it would probably not seem like much on the surface.  That is because it is all happening below the surface.  

Rose and Windy are two ordinary girls trying to enjoy an ordinary summer vacation and this is demonstrated through Mariko Tamaki's brilliant story-telling and Jillian Tamaki's wonderful illustrations.  The drama taking place is happening to other characters on the periphery and the girls are mere observers - so we see it all play out through their eyes.  Essentially, it focuses on two female characters who are both going through a crisis.  One is a 15 year old girl and the other is Rose's mother.  Their crises are of a similar nature but on opposite sides of the spectrum - a good (but also hard) lesson in irony for the young observers. Rose is directly affected by what is going on in both these situations (To say anymore about this would be a spoiler).  She does not complain or act out but simply gets on with things.  And yet, it is clear that inwardly she is experiencing the turmoil of someone at that difficult phase in life (not a child but not a young adult either) - so not quite old enough to handle very adult problems, while being exposed to them. Sadly, her parents are part of the problem and there is no one grown-up she feels she can go to.  Thank goodness for Windy (who is an absolute sweetheart, by the way). 

Reading This One Summer was like being a fly on the wall of the lives of a bunch of people on vacation.  It is reality fiction. I particularly loved the part when Rose and Windy disagree about a particular issue and it is easy to see why they take the positions they do. (Let's just say Rose is seeing the situation through eye glasses tinted the colour of her name, while Windy is not.)  We then see the girls distance from each other for a little while and then slip back into their friendly routine in ways I am certain we all have done with our friends as children.  Another poignant undertone is knowing it is unlikely that such a friendship will last beyond that summer -  as Rose becames a teenager, Windy is likely to be left behind in favour of older teenagers - and how devasting that will be for her (Windy). 

As I have said before about graphic novels, their beauty is in the way they combine words and images to tell a story - which I know sounds obvious but what I mean is it is synergistic.  I haven't read many of them but This One Summer is the one that demonstrates this more than any other I have read.  

In short, it is a fantastic read with hidden depths.  It is literary food to nourish the soul and I believe that is why it has received the acclaim it has. 

It is really aimed at pre-teens and YAs and I have no doubt they will love it.  But this grown-up is happy she purchased her paperback copy, and she intends to hold on to it - and revisit it again, and again...

Although not a recent publication, 
This One Summer is a recommended 
2016 Summer Read


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