I picked up This One Summer in Fredericton while I was on (an impromptu) vacation. I’d seen it praised on social media and heard that Jillian and Mariko Tamaki were redefining the genre, at it won a GG, so I figured it’d be good. Plus, it seemed particularly fitting for a summer holiday.
In This One Summer, Rose visits Awago Beach with her family like she has every year. It has always been a refuge filled with summer fun. Only this summer is different. Sure, her friend Windy is still there to act like the sister she never had, but her parents’ fighting threatens to ruin everything. Seeking distraction, Rose and Windy begin spying on the teenagers at the corner store only to find they have just as many secrets as the adults. It is a summer of change and the two girls must face it together.
Let’s get into it
There’s lots to like about his graphic novel. Jillian Tamaki’s artwork is lovely. She captures characters’ expressions well and I liked the variation in appearances as well as the monochromatic colour scheme. The illustrations pair perfectly with the writing, making this a thoroughly enjoyable graphic novel.
This One Summer captures what it is like for girls to grow up. Throughout the novel, Windy and Rose act as observers of those older than themselves. It is interesting to see what they absorb through this observation. There’s some lightheartedness in it, like their concerns over getting “massive boobs,” but there’s also some more serious matters like their growing perspectives on sex (and sexism). One particularly memorable scene has Rose and Windy at odds over calling a teenager facing a pregnancy scare a slut.
The relationship between Windy and Rose is at the core of this novel. They are summer friends, so we get to witness their re-connection as the novel begins and the subtle differences that occur between them as a result of their slight age difference and backgrounds. Their influence on one another further captures the challenges of growing up.
What I loved most about this book was the way it captured a moment in time. There is a sense that everything is changing for Windy and Rose. They are stuck between wanting to grow up and wanting to hold on to their peaceful summer memories. I think that’s a feeling many people can sympathize with. It is bittersweet, but that simply amplifies the realistic nature of the story.
Final verdict: This One Summer is lovely all around. Beautiful artwork and writing come together to make a memorable and eloquent story that captures summer wonderfully.