This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki Book Review

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Illustrations by illian Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Every summer, Rose goes with her parents to a lake house in Awago Beach. Her friend Windy is always there too, her best friend who she only gets to see for a few weeks every year. This summer is different though. Rose's parents are constantly fighting. Both girls are on the cusp of young adulthood and they are witnessing some of the secrets and sorrows that come with growing up.

I know a lot of people liked this graphic novel and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, in my mind this is the type of story that really doesn't go anywhere, meandering through a summer in a way that felt rather pointless. It may be that I was just unable to relate to any of these characters, either now or from my childhood. My family never went on long vacations anywhere. I have always hated the beach. And the things that Rose and Windy are experiencing in their coming-of-age story is nothing like the things I dealt with. This is not meant as a criticism, but rather so that there is a deeper understanding as to why I couldn't get into this book. For me, with no connection to the characters on any level, it just wasn't fulfilling.

All that said, objectively speaking this is a well-done graphic novel. The illustrations were fantastic and it definitely has its audience, as it has shown over the past year. Windy is a fantastic character and one of the few positive examples I have seen of a girl who wouldn't be considered "skinny". This is important, as many books with overweight characters seem to dwell on weight far too much. Rose's mom is also dealing with some rather grown-up issues and although nothing ever felt fully resolved, perhaps this was the point.