This one summer

Mariko Tamaki

Book - 2014

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.

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Review by New York Times Review

IN THE FIRST frames of "This One Summer," a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki, a father carries his sleeping daughter down a driveway to a cottage in the dark. This is Awago Beach, where Rose Wallace's family has been coming "since ... like ... forever." Or, more precisely, since Rose, who is now either an old tween or a young teenager (we don't learn her exact age), was 5. "This One Summer" is a graphic novel for readers who appreciate the form, as well as for fans of traditionally told coming-of-age stories. If I worked at a bookstore, I'd be hand-selling it to customers who adored Raina Telgemeier's graphic memoir "Smile" but are now ready for more complex themes. Eagerly hand-selling it: This is a lovely book. While "This One Summer" is not a memoir, Mariko Tamaki based the setting on the Canadian cottage community she went to growing up. And though the story takes place in the present day, a quality of remembrance infuses it. Tamaki understands the nostalgic power a summer tradition holds, even for a child. Rose feels the tug whether she is recalling a long-ago day at the beach or simply performing a task for the first time in the season, like undoing the lock on the shed that holds the bikes. Jillian Tamaki, who illustrates the By the Book feature in The New York Times Book Review, uses shades of indigo that remind me of "One Morning in Maine" and draws Rose's world as precisely as Robert McCloskey delineated Sal's. But where McCloskey's Buck's Harbor was spare and quaint, Awago Beach's vibe is progressive and scruffy. There's a vegan massage therapist, Pom juice and a mother in a Bikini Kill T-shirt; there are renters, people with unlovely faces, and a town store that sells turkey jerky and gummy feet. The store also rents DVDs, and this summer Rose and her friend Windy are working their way through the horror shelf. They're in the scary-movie stage - a near-universal young-teenage experience. (The Tamaki cousins demonstrate a delightfully anthropological appreciation of such customs. Girls' studies scholars, take note: Five pages are devoted to a single game of Mansion, Apartment, Shed, House.) From her viewing of the films, we understand that this summer Rose is old enough to take in what's been kept from her before. In real life, the scary thing Rose must confront is her mother's depression, which is connected to infertility and, we eventually learn, to a miscarriage. The scene of the miscarriage is stunning and powerful - Rose's mother stands thigh-deep in the fake, peering down into her bikini bottom - but I wondered how it would read to a young teenager. Not in a bad way; I just had no idea how it would land. And maybe that's part of the point. In adulthood, disturbing things happen. We get to a certain age, and we stand on the shore, observing them. Rose, like all of us, is trying to make sense of these scenes, and the feelings they elicit, as best she can. A second plot about pregnancy involves a boy who works at the town store. Windy has less interest in this drama than Rose, and I felt the same way. Partly because, like Windy at this age, I was scared of older teenagers, not intrigued by them. "I want to go ... back," Windy says to Rose as the two peruse a wooded spot where the boy may have had sex. "Can we go back ... now?" But also because this material is not as well executed as the rest. It recalled for me portions of the Tamakis' earlier collaboration, "Skim" (a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book in 2008), a portrayal of adolescent depression that was undermined by a tonally dissonant popular-kids plot. That said, it's in keeping with Rose's character that she's so intrigued by the teenagers' drama. At its heart, "This One Summer" is a coming-of-age story about an observer. This comes across, beautifully, in a sequence in which Rose lurks outside the kitchen window with a camera. Her mother and her aunt are talking at the table, unaware of Rose's presence - until she takes a shot. The camera clicks, and the women notice her. It is as an observer that Rose makes herself seen. She is a watchful heroine - so much so that when, at the end of the story, she plays a role in a heroic act, it is precisely because she has been looking so closely. She proves herself to be as quietly powerful as this moving, evocative book. SUSAN BURTON is writing a memoir, "The Invention of the Teenage Girl."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [June 8, 2014]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Mariko and Jillian Tamaki earned critical acclaim for Skim (2008), and they return here with another coming-of-age tale about the awkward transition from carefree childhood to jaded, self-conscious young adulthood. Rose and her parents spend every summer at their lakeside cabin in Awago, right down the path from Rose's best friend, Windy, and her family. They spend lazy days collecting rocks on the beach, riding bikes, swimming, and having barbecues. But this summer, Rose's parents are constantly fighting, and her mother seems resentful and sad. In that unspoken way kids pick up on their parents' hardships, Rose starts lashing out at Windy and grasping at what she thinks of as adulthood turning up her nose at silliness (at which Windy excels), watching gory horror movies, reading fashion magazines, and joining in the bullying of a local teenage girl who finds herself in a tough spot. Jillian Tamaki's tender illustrations, all rendered in a deep purpley blue, depict roiling water, midnight skies, Windy's frenetic sugar highs, and Rose's mostly aloof but often poignantly distressed facial expressions with equal aplomb. With a light touch, the Tamakis capture the struggle of growing up in a patchwork of summer moments that lead to a conclusion notably absent of lessons. Wistful, touching, and perfectly bittersweet.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Rose and Windy, friends for two weeks every summer in nearby Ontario lake cottages, have hit early adolescence. Rose, a bit older, has knowledge and polish that tubby, still-childish Windy lacks, and Windy sometimes bores her. Yet Windy's instincts are often sound, while Rose is led astray by an infatuation with a local convenience store clerk. As Rose's parents' marriage founders and the taunts of local teens wake her to issues of social class, Rose veers between secret grief and fleeting pleasure in the rituals of summer. Jillian Tamaki's exceptionally graceful line is one of the strengths of this work from the cousin duo behind Skim. Printed entirely in somber blue ink, the illustrations powerfully evoke the densely wooded beach town setting and the emotional freight carried by characters at critical moments, including several confronting their womanhood in different and painful ways. Fine characterization and sensitive prose distinguish the story, too-as when Rose remembers the wisdom a swimming teacher shared about holding his breath for minutes at a time: "He told me the secret was he would tell himself that he was actually breathing." Ages 12-up. Agent: Sam Hiyate, the Rights Factory. (May)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Every summer, Rose and her parents vacation at a lakeside cottage. The rest of the world fades away as Rose reunites with her friend Windy and delves into leisurely games of MASH, swimming, and the joy of digging giant holes in the sand-but this summer is different. Rose is on the cusp of adolescence; she's not ready to leave childhood behind but is fascinated by the drama of the local teens who are only a few years older, yet a universe apart in terms of experience. They drink, they smoke, they swear. As Rose and Windy dip their toes into the mysterious waters of teen life by experimenting with new vocabulary ("sluts!") and renting horror movies, her parents struggle with their own tensions that seem incomprehensible to Rose. Layers of story unfurl gradually as the narrative falls into the dreamlike rhythm of summer. Slice-of-life scenes are gracefully juxtaposed with a complex exploration of the fragile family dynamic after loss and Rose's ambivalence toward growing up. The mood throughout is thoughtful, quiet, almost meditative. The muted tones of the monochromatic blue-on-white illustrations are perfectly suited to the contemplative timbre, and the writing and images deserve multiple reads to absorb their subtleties. This captivating graphic novel presents a fully realized picture of a particular time in a young girl's life, an in-between summer filled with yearning and a sense of ephemerality. The story resolves with imperfect hope and will linger in readers' mind through changing seasons.-Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Rose Wallace and her parents go to Awago Beach every summer. Rose collects rocks on the beach, swims in the lake, and goes on bike rides with her younger "summer cottage friend," Windy. But this year she is feeling too old for some of the activities she used to love -- and even, at times, for the more-childish (yet self-assured) Windy. Rose would rather do adult things: watch horror movies and talk with Windy about boobs, boys, and sex. In their second graphic novel -- another impressive collaboration -- the Tamaki cousins (Skim, rev. 7/08) examine the mix of uncertainty and hope a girl experiences on the verge of adolescence. The episodic plot and varied page layout set a leisurely pace evocative of summer. Rose's contemplative observations and flashbacks, along with the book's realistic dialogue, offer insight into her evolving personality, while the dramatic changes in perspective and purply-blue ink illustrations capture the narrative's raw emotional core. Secondary storylines also accentuate Rose's transition from childhood to young adulthood: she's caught in the middle of the tension between her parents (due to her mom's recent abrasive moodiness and the painful secret behind it) and fascinated by the local teens' behavior (swearing, drinking, smoking, fighting, and even a pregnancy; the adult situations -- and frank language -- she encounters may be eye-opening reading for pre-adolescents like Rose). This is a poignant drama worth sharing with middle-schoolers, and one that teen readers will also appreciate for its look back at the beginnings of the end of childhood. cynthia k. ritter (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A summer of family drama, secrets and change in a small beach town.Rose's family has always vacationed in Awago Beach. It's "a place where beer grows on trees and everyone can sleep in until eleven," but this year's getaway is proving less idyllic than those of the past. Rose's parents argue constantly, and she is painfully aware of her mother's unhappiness. Though her friendship with Windy, a younger girl, remains strong, Rose is increasingly curious about the town's older teens, especially Dunc, a clerk at the general store. Jillian and Mariko Tamaki (Skim, 2008) skillfully portray the emotional ups and downs of a girl on the cusp of adolescence in this eloquent graphic novel. Rose waxes nostalgic for past summers even as she rejects some old pursuits as too childlike and mimics the older teens. The realistic dialogue and sensitive first-person narration convey Rose's navet and confusion, and Windy's comfort in her own skin contrasts with Rose's uncertainty. Both the text and art highlight small but meaningful incidents as readers gradually learn the truth behind the tension in Rose's family. Printed in dark blue ink, Jillian Tamaki's illustrations feature strong, fluid lines, and the detailed backgrounds and stunning two-page spreads throughout the work establish the mood and a compelling sense of place.Keenly observed and gorgeously illustrateda triumph. (Graphic novel. 13 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.