Rose is just an ordinary girl with an average life and regular parents. Every year, her family travels to Awago Beach for a summer filled with sun and surf, accompanied by her younger friend, Windy. But this year, everything feels different, including Rose herself. She’s begun to notice things she hasn’t seen in years past: the inner dynamics of family life, a running thread of teenage angst that permeates the town, and an older boy who works in the video store that she and Windy frequent during the summer. It seems as though this summer marks the beginning of something new and different for Rose, but she doesn’t know if she’s ready for it.
This One Summer is the day-to-day story of Rose’s experiences over a single summer, a quiet reflection on the people and situations she encounters, and the way she deals with her parents’ gradual separation. Her parents won’t stop fighting, but Rose doesn’t understand why they started in the first place. She experiences the first stirrings of love when she meets Dunc, the boy at the video store. But as she explores the town and learns its secrets, she realizes that he is involved in something troubling. Coupled with her mother’s mood swings and her father’s decision to leave, Rose feels confused and angry. Readers will accompany Rose on her journey of self-discovery and disappointment, finding a touch of optimism along the way.
Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the author and illustrator of the wonderful graphic novel Skim, have given readers another story full of real-life heartbreak and hope that illustrates what it means to be a teenager coming of age, even when you’re not sure you’re ready. So deftly is this coming-of-age story told that adult readers will be transported back to their own teenage years. Present-day teenagers will feel a kinship with Rose, whose experiences and feelings are so similar to their own, so much so that it’s like she’s a real person.
Jillian Tamaki’s illustrations are as beautiful as ever, mixing full-page artwork with traditional paneled pages brimming with texture and detail. The blue-toned sepia palette lends a dreaminess to the illustrations, while a mixture of sharp line drawings and shading add depth, imbuing the images with a life-like quality. Situated perfectly in each panel, the word bubbles and lettering never overpower the characters or the action.
This One Summer is another beautiful and touching story from the Tamaki cousins, one that sets a high standard for the teen experience as expressed in the graphic novel format.
This One Summer
by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Jillian Tamaki
First Second, 2014