Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator: Jiliam Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Each summer, Rosie and her parents take a vacation at a lake house in Awago Beach. There, Rosie and her friend Windy spend time on the beach, swimming, watching movies, and just bumming around. But this year things are different. Rosie’s parents are fighting, and Rosie and Windy get sucked in to the local teenage drama. Rosie discovers that her mother, struggling with deep grief and her relationship with her husband, had had a miscarriage the year before. She finds out that the local teenage drama that revolves around one couple’s mishaps and resulting pregnancy lead the girl to almost commit suicide. Rosie and Windy find strength in each other as they navigate life’s big changes together and try to understand the complications that life throws at them and at their families.
Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki have crafted a simply phenomenal and hopeful story. Mariko’s words, although often raw and riddled with language, harmonize well with Jillian’s images. There are enough expletives and hard topics in the writing that make this graphic novel more of a young adult work than a children’s work, although this book has won prestigious awards in both age groups. Educators and parents would be wise, therefore, to help younger audiences work through these topics in order to fully appreciate the work. The artwork that accompanies the words of this graphic novel is stunning. The images are soft and appealing, showing us the stories these two girls observe during one summer on the cusp between childhood and adolescence. The images are never inappropriate, but accompany the words well. This One Summer is a feat of graphic storytelling.
*Contains moderate language, and mild sexual content.