Staff Review: "This One Summer"
Every summer Rose and her parents visit Awago Beach. There are the timeless jokes (Rose's father jokes about Rose being born at the turkey farm) and the old summer only friends, in Rose's case, Windy. This summer is different. Rose's mom and dad aren't getting along and Rose thinks she knows why: Rose's mom wants to have another baby, but her dad doesn't.
"This One Summer" layers the concerns Rose has about her parent's relationship with her awakening understandings of sexuality. When a local boy Rose has a bit of a secret crush on gets his girlfriend pregnant, many of these concerns and thoughts rise to the surface. Rose's confusion, thoughts and actions are clear whether it's about renting another horror movie to watch with Windy, her anger at her mom, her discomfort over the sexual comments made by the older teens around her or her confusion over the local boy's seeming refusal to take any responsibility for his girlfriend's pregnancy. Jillian Tamaki's illustrations depict Rose's feelings beautifully, while Mariko Tamaki's story illuminates the conflict inside Rose. She's angry with her mom's moodiness. unsure of her own feelings, frustrated by Windy's incessant talking...all very typical of teens at this age.
In the end, "This One Summer," works on so many levels...it's a beautifully written and drawn story of those early teen years, hovering between childhood and adulthood. It feels a bit like nostalgia to me, but teens will be drawn to the story and recognize themselves in Rose's experiences. Overall, a wonderful graphic novel that might get lost in the noise of superheros and the everything of Manga, but well worth searching out.