This One Summer

October 25, 2016
This One Summer Book Cover This One Summer
Mariko Tamaki
Young Adult
First Second
May 6th, 2014
Jillian Tamaki

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.

(via Goodreads)

A 2015 Caldecott Honor winner, This One Summer follows the perspective of Rose during a summer vacation at Awago Beach in Canada. Paired with her goofy friend Windy, the two of them experience life in very typical ways with very atypical situations. What struck me the most about this graphic novel was its ability to make you emotionally uncomfortable through the observations of our protagonists. I have not felt this emotionally engaged in a graphic novel… possibly ever.

This One Summer is not a standard graphic novel. We just follow Rose from her arrival this-one-summer-bedroomat the beginning of the Summer in Awago Beach to the end of the summer. She hangs out with her friend Windy. She plays at the beach. She spends time with her family and Windy’s family. Honestly, it’s a very average Summer experience. But what makes this experience extraordinary is that this is a key summer for both Rose and Windy– this is the summer where they begin to transition from girlhood to womanhood.

The things that Windy and Rose did in previous summers don’t mean the same things they used to. This isn’t a sudden change, and it happens at different times for both girls. They begin to watch the women around them, how these women interact with the world, and how they are perceived. this-one-summer-dancing-2These observations then reflect in how Rose and Windy begin to leave their childhood. Instead of being told, or experienced directly, we get to observe these actions. This makes the uncomfortable moments frequent, but very powerful. I found myself cringing at their interpretations of the world and their reactions.Yet, I never questioned the experiences Rose and Windy were having or their reactions to the world around them.

The events happening over the course of this summer are varied. Bittersweet and powerful, the other women involved in life on Awago Beach are struggling with their own issues. While Rose and Windy are worrying about their developing bodies and being cool, the other women are discovering lesbian friends, struggling with unwanted pregnancies, depression, and miscarriages. A seemingly innocent summer-long trip to the beach is actually the crux of this-one-summer-mashchanges in many relationships and a definitive point for many people’s futures.

Almost everything in this story is understated, which is perfect. A sleepy summer vacation shouldn’t be full of action and drama. And in this case, the drama is gentle. The art in this book is beautiful and inked in only a dark lavender-blue color. Through this beautiful art we observe much of the summer. Though this art and observation the reader gets to interpret and misunderstand things, just like Rose and Windy. It really keys perfectly into the beginning of puberty.

Honestly, this graphic novel left me a bit raw. There were so many negative emotions fluttering about, as well as so many uncomfortable moments, that feel it will be a long time before I re-read this. That said, I certainly plan on revisiting it someday. This simple story is strangely powerful and left a mark with me. I know for a fact I did not get everything out of this book I needed or wanted to. I look forward to that day.

4 stars

What do you think?

  • Do you read graphic novels? Why or why not?
  • The One Summer often made me uncomfortable, but it was powerful in that way. Do you read books that make you uncomfortable? What do you like or dislike about those books?
  • All the art is done in shades of indigo. Why do you think Tamaki chose that color scheme? Do you like it?


  • Books, Vertigo and Tea October 25, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    This is a great review! I love when GNs receive proper reviews. It sounds very charming, although it might take me a moment to get used to the lack of color, something I expect in Manga but not GNs of course. Still, I am curious

    • Jackie B October 25, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks, Danielle! I actually enjoyed the shades of blue/purple. I also read a lot of manga, so I thought it might be similar. Actually, it was quite soothing! I think the color scheme really played into how I interpreted and appreciated the book. I read quite a few graphic novels, so stick around if you want more proper reviews. 😉

  • rantandraveaboutbooks October 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I have never read a graphic novel before. This one sounds really interesting. I was thinking about trying out a comic graphic novel, but I never got around to buying it. I still can’t find a follow button for WP, but I followed you on Twitter. I didn’t know you were on there until yesterday. Wonderful review! 🙂

    • Jackie B October 25, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      I really enjoy graphic novels. I am not someone who can visualize things in my mind very well (it’s almost completely non-existant), so these really help me experience a very different story than if I had only read the words. I strongly recommend graphic novels, and I can provide you a list of some if you’re interested. I even have a post of 5 Challenged Graphic Novels You Should Read from Banned Books week which is a good place to start. I love all 5.

      I do have a Follow button on the far right sidebar of my blog when you’re on a computer. On a tablet or phone you can find the button waaaaay at the bottom of the screen. It took me a while to get there, but I found it! 🙂

      • rantandraveaboutbooks October 25, 2016 at 11:47 pm

        Thanks! I’ll take a look. I’m so swamped with ARCs I’ll probably take a look at them in 2017. I have so much reading scheduled the next few months. I’ll take a look again for the follow button. I didn’t see it earlier. 🙂

        • Jackie B October 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm

          Preach at me. As we get closer to the end of the year, the TBR pile isn’t getting any smaller, but the deadlines are coming faster. Yikes.

  • smsteve7 October 25, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I haven’t read many graphic novels other than Maos, Persepolis and the anthology of East of West. Would this be one of the top ones you’d recommend to start whetting my appetite for more? Do you find that they take you more or less time to read given the pictures?

    • Jackie B October 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Honestly, I’m not certain what you’d think of this. It didn’t take me long to read– I find that with most graphic novels I have to read them twice: Once to focus on the story, and once to focus on the story the pictures are telling me. There isn’t a ton of text in This One Summer, so I spent more time focusing on the details in the drawing than usual. If you are interested in exploring graphic novels more, but you want to stay away from the fantastic elements, I would recommend this as a good place to start. Otherwise, well, I have some more fantastic recommendations as well. 😉

  • Read Diverse Books October 27, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Awesome! Another positive review for this graphic novel. I like when books leave me raw and affect me emotionally. Those are the books that stick with me most. Now I am convinced I need to read this one.
    Next time I go on a graphic novel shopping spree (these are separate from my novel shopping sprees), I will be looking out for a copy of This One Summer. If I can’t find it, I’ll just get it online. 🙂

    • Jackie B October 28, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      You’re right– these are the books that stick with us the most. It will be a long time before I forget the experience of reading this book. But, being left raw isn’t always an enjoyable experience for me. I can be kinda a baby sometimes.
      I hope that you get a chance to read it. I look forward to your opinions.

  • Cait @ Paper Fury October 31, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Oh I’ve vaguely heard of this one and I’d totally love to read it!! I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, but that’s mainly because my library has a pitiful selection. *weeps* I’m glad this was a good one for you! And yessss, I do like when books stick with me because they use deeper themes and ask questions and make me think. LOVE IT.

    • Jackie B October 31, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      I am lucky– a huge donor provided money to create a graphic novel collection about a decade ago. My library system now has over 500 graphic novels, and the collection is housed at my home library. This is one of the reasons I read quite a few graphic novels, honestly. They are easy to pick up at random when I’m scoping the stacks. 🙂
      What book most recently stuck with you in this way, Cait?

  • Ola October 31, 2016 at 4:26 am

    This book is on my TBR for really long time now. I’m glad to see that you liked it, and I’m even more happy to see that it is the ‘good uncomfortable’ read. I like such reads, because they make me feel and think, and learn about something. They are uncomfortable, because they are about something I don’t normally interact with. I read to learn more about things that are not normal for me.

    • Jackie B November 2, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      That’s a really great point, Ola! The uncomfortable feeling is a good indicator that I am broaching unfamiliar territory. I should take note of that when I read.

      Any books you’ve read lately which make you uncomfortable? I should push my boundaries more. 🙂

  • Anne October 31, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I chuckled at someone being called Windy. So now that we have that out of the way: this sounds sooo much like my cup of tea!! I love the indigo, the simplicity, and slow-paced while there are still raw emotions flying around town…YES PLEASE!! Great review of what seems like a great book!! I’m definitely adding this to my TBR pile. Graphic Novels will always be read sooner than the regular ones on it, so soooon ;).

    • Jackie B November 2, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      I also chuckled– apparently it was a popular name in the 1970’s? Who knew…

      I’m glad this graphic novel appeals to you! Honestly, the blurb didn’t really speak to me nearly as much as the indigo did. I’m glad I’m not alone there. I look forward to hearing what you think about this!

      • Anne November 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm

        Guess they got rid of it soon enough eh? 😉

        I ordered it from The Book Depository the other day!

  • Jasmine October 31, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Is graphic novel easy to read? I haven’t read one before. I guess I can understand the picture will help with leading where the story is going. I had trouble imagine how the world is in Six of Crows

    • Jackie B November 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      I really enjoy reading graphic novels. It takes a little bit to get used to, I guess. Particularly if you didn’t grow up reading comics. As long as you’re not reading Manga it should be easy. I encourage you to try it out! If this doesn’t appeal to you, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a great memoir. And Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is a great twist on fantasy.

      • Jasmine November 2, 2016 at 5:53 pm

        Thanks. I’ll take a look 🙂

  • Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks November 5, 2016 at 3:35 am

    I don’t usually read graphic novels, but I loved your review for this, it makes me curious and I definitely want to add this to my TBR now. Also, it’s so awesome when a book just stays with you like this, really makes you think, and feel all the things. <3

    • Jackie B November 7, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Thanks, Marie! I hope that you get a chance to read it– I am definitely interested to see what you think of it. I am often surprised how few people read graphic novels since they are a common part of my library. It’s fun to change things up now and then.

  • Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity November 22, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve really gotten into graphic novels this year, so I will definitely add this one to the TBR. A lot of the ones I’m reading are in series, so it will be good to read a standalone.

    I really like the look of the coloured ink. I have always been drawn to books with coloured fonts (like Splintered by A.G. Howard), as I think they give a different feel to the story. I can’t say what the lavender/indigo colour gives to this one, as I think I would have to read it to know. But it looks kind of nostalgic and blue tones are always associated with summer, right?

    It’s great that you liked this one so much, even if there were some negative and uncomfortable moments for you. Sometimes that is the mark of a good book (or graphic novel in this case) because it’s making you feel. Lovely review, Jackie 🙂

    • Jackie B November 24, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      I’m so glad you’ve started to dig into graphic novels. So many of them are series, so it’s nice to find a standalone.
      I just recently requested Splintered from the library as my local librarian recommended it when I returned This One Summer. I totally agree that the indigo ink gives this book a nostalgic air to it; it’s like rose colored glasses, but a bit easier on the eye. Are there any other graphic novels you’d recommend?
      You’re right that this book certainly marked me. I’ll have to re-read it in a few months and absorb it all again.

  • Evelina August 13, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    This looks awesome. I wish I read more graphic novels, like you! I only have actual Japanese ones xD which I now don’t read for obvious reasons (if explanation is needed – reading in Japanese takes a while. And I have a blog. Thus I have to read at inhuman speeds. You know how that works.)

    • Jackie B August 15, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Wait. You can read Japanese!?! That’s amazing! I’ve read my share of English translated manga, but nothing in Japanese. Wow! What inspired you to learn?

      I don’t even bother pretending to read at inhuman speeds any longer. I just do what I can and sleep when I can. 😉

Participate in the discussion!

%d bloggers like this: