Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book Review: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator)


I don't read many graphic novels. And that's an understatement (until last week I never truly had--the only graphic books I'd read were all nonfiction). And this one blew me away.

Rose and her parents go to the beach every summer for a week. Another kid a bit younger than her. Windy, is always in a nearby cottage and that's true this summer again. The old friends hang out, swim, rent movies, and speculate about the teenagers who work at and hang out at the little village store. And it sounds lovely and all, and it somewhat is, but there's an undercurrent running through the book that eventually comes to the forefront: Rose's mother is sad. Very sad. She's been sad for a long time. She wanted a second child for a long time, and they tried for a long time, and they recently gave up, although she doesn't seem like she did entirely. Rose resents that she isn't enough, that her mother can't just snap out of it, and the implications of the fact that Windy is adopted, and it seems one of the teenagers in town is pregnant and being blown off by her boyfriend, the main store employee. Finally, Rose's mother can't entirely hold it together anymore, she and Rose's father get in a big fight and he goes back to town for a few days "to work." But Rose overhears things. She's very perceptive. Adults talk and they don't always realize that little pitchers have big ears.

Even though Rose is fairly young, and Windy even younger, these preteens are mature for their age (not inappropriately so) and the book deals with some heavy issues that kept making me think it was more YA. It's not for a faint-hearted or very naive 10-year-old. But it's perfect for a more mature, thoughtful preteen who, like me at that age, wants to know more about the cruddy things that can happen in life so that she's prepared. The images were evocative and beautiful, with a limited palette that eloquently conveys the tone and emotions.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I checked this book out of the library.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer.

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