Graphic Novel Review | This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

this one summerTitle: This One Summer

Author: Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki

Genre: Graphic Novel | Young Adult | Contemporary

Synopsis: Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Would I recommend? To fans of realistic fiction. It’s a good summer read.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆

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Aimal’s Review:

This is my second venture into the graphic novel genre, the first being the Amulet series. I picked this up on a whim. I went to my local public library, saw this on the shelf, and I wanted something light to read in between bigger books. I didn’t expect to like this much because of two reasons. I’m a little on the fence about graphic novels and their pacing. The Amulet series is extremely fast-paced; there’s something going on in every page, and I wasn’t sure if the faster pacing would work in a realistic contemporary. Secondly, even though the artwork is not black-and-white, everything is in shades of blue. I wasn’t sure I’d be into a non-colorful graphic novel. My expectations were fairly low, but they need not have been.

The pacing is wonderful in this graphic novel. I didn’t think it was too fast, I didn’t think it was slow either. The artwork did take some getting used to, but I really enjoyed the melancholy feel to it after a while. The expressions of the characters, the setting, the detail, the shadings have obviously been given a lot of attention, and I really appreciated the tone the artwork set for the entire novel. It’s a summer book, but it’s not a light story. It discusses some important themes, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as deep as it turned out to be.

Family problems, slut-shaming, teenage pregnancies, suicide, depression. Surprised? How can a graphic novel that is a little over 300 pages long discuss such serious topics? That’s the beauty of this book; the Tamakis don’t need to go into detail about each of these issues, because they leap effortlessly off the page.

I enjoyed the relationships between the characters. I loved Rose’s relationship with her friend, Windy. Both characters have tangible chemistry, and even though they’re kind of polar opposites, you’re completely invested in their friendship. Rose’s character was very relatable- she was quiet, slightly shy, very observant, judgmental at times but willing to learn. Windy was dynamic. She was the comic relief. She was fun and boisterous and full of life. I loved her. I loved her appearance too- she was very unconventional, but it only added to her charm.

I particularly liked how the Tamakis dealt with the problems within Rose’s family. Rose’s parents are always fighting- her mother is especially taciturn and reserved, and Rose is forced to deal with this reality as the summer progresses. I enjoyed how the situation unraveled. It wasn’t heavy-handed or in-your-face about it; it was a gradual process that occurred in the background.

I’m a little unsure about the end. Even though I like how some of the plot points were left untied, it felt a bit too open for my liking, almost as if there’s room for a sequel. I would have liked to know more, and while I appreciate the reality of ambiguity, it was still too… loose. Other than that, great graphic novel and I would definitely recommend it to people who are trying to get into graphic novels, who are into realistic contemporary fiction.

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