Summer and adolescence seem to go hand in hand. Three months is a long time when you are 12 or 13 and important changes sometimes mean that friendships change. Bina discovers this in All Summer Long when her best friend, Austin, goes away for summer camp and leaves her alone to navigate the idle hours of summer on her own, unlike every summer of the past few years.

Despite her expectations, Bina keeps busy. Surprisingly, she befriends Austin’s older sister and learns some things about babysitting, boyfriends, and music. She starts practicing the guitar and develops a liking for bands like Steep Streets.

Each chapter is divided into weeks of the summer, and Bina learns and grows in many ways during her eventful summer. In almost every chapter, Bina has some poignant interaction with a family member or friend, whether it be her older brother Davey or her Dad. There is a little drama when her babysitting gig doesn’t go as planned and she gets the great advice to start a band from her favorite singer/guitarist at a concert. When Bina says she isn’t good enough to start a band, the singer says, “Starting a band is the only way to GET good enough to start a band.” That’s advice that Bina plans to follow.

When Austin comes back from camp, he seems different. He acts weird and gets angry a lot. Eventually, he and Bina get in a fight. Later, he apologizes and this leads to a conversation about how they are both changing and what that means for their friendship. The conversation doesn’t go the way I thought it would and it was refreshing to see a longtime friendship get reaffirmed in the way it does.

Larson’s artwork is clean and simple. This is a similar style used in many middle grade graphic novels where character development is the most important aspect of the book. She is able to make slight changes to faces to help you keep track of the many characters in the book. Bina is a person of color, and although we never really know what nationality or culture she is a part of, the lack of specificity doesn’t detract from enjoying her story. Larson chooses to use an orange and yellow color palette throughout the book and it is a good choice that conveys the message, “this is summer.”

All Summer Long is a nice story about friendships with likable characters that make mistakes, but they learn and grow from them. There is not a lot of big drama, but fans of Raina Telgemeier and Vera Brosgol, as well as kids looking for a breezy, fun comic, will certainly enjoy this. This could go in either a juvenile or young adult collection, and most school and public libraries will want to own multiple copies.

All Summer Long
by Hope Larson
ISBN: 9780374310714
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 10-12

  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library

    Reviewer

    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

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