Thursday, July 1, 2021

Summer Reading Book #5 -- "This One Summer" by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

The first graphic novel I ever read was Maus back when I was in high school. I had read comics for years, and at the time, I didn’t see much difference between a “comic book” and a “graphic novel.” In fact, many “graphic novels” are collections of comics. My favorite was The Dark Knight book collections and, in 1994, The Crow. Man, I loved The Crow.

Unlike during my time in high school, graphic novels today tend to be made as graphic novels from the start; they are not collected comic books. This One Summer is such a book.

On first glance, the artwork is simple, and done in a single color. But the simplicity at first glance is misleading: the artwork is stunningly detailed and full of emotion. I found myself staring into the  panels, absorbing the composition and its elements.

And, like all good graphic novels, the illustrations by Jillian Tamaki in This One Summer fully compliments the story written by her collaborator and cousin Mariko Tamaki.

This One Summer tells the story Rose, an only child who has been spending the summers in a cottage with her parents at Awago Beach since she was a little girl. This summer is different, however. Her parents aren’t getting along, and whatever it is that is causing problems is palpable. Plus, she is no longer a little girl. She is on the cusp of being a teenager, and is trying to figure out herself and her place in the world.

Also spending the summer at a neighboring cottage is her long-time friend, Windy. Windy is younger than Rose, and at times Rose becomes annoyed by Windy’s more child-like behavior. Nevertheless, they take trips to the only store in town to buy candy and rent retro horror movies, like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. And, for some reason, Rose becomes very interested in one of the teenage boys who works at the store and becomes obsessed with his personal problems.

The book moves very fast --- much like summer does. In fact, it has that summer feel, especially to a kid. And I assume the book would bring some nostalgia to both teenagers and adults. It did for me. However, I wasn’t so much interested in the storyline involving the teenage boy, but was drawn to the relationship that Rose has with her parents. And the realization as to what is causing their discord is gut-wrenching.

The book ends rather abruptly, and soon Rose and Windy are saying goodbye. Nothing seems resolved satisfactorily. But that is how summer ends, right?

Although this is not a book I would have picked up on my own, This One Summer was a great book -- a perfect book for remembering summers past, when summer was a magical time.

But it also perfectly captures that period in everyone’s life when trying to figure things out took more time and contemplation; a time when we begin to realize that things are never as simple as we had thought.  I felt for both Rose and Windy, remembering the tinges of growing up that often accompanied that awkward time before high school.

This One Summer is available in the ARC. Check it out.