When I think of great summer reads, I usually think about fast-paced thrillers or hot and heavy romances. But sometimes you don’t necessarily want to read a book that features murder, a million plot twists, or a love story. Sometimes, the best summer read is one that slowly unfolds in front of you like a perfect day on vacation.
If that sounds good to you, then look no further. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki is a graphic novel you need to check out ASAP. Rose is spending yet another summer with her parents at their house in Awago Beach. For Rose, one of the best parts of summer is hanging out with her extremely lively friend Windy. Windy might be a bit younger, but she has the self-confidence and personality of someone a lot older. Whether she’s demonstrating her dance skills or talking about how much she wishes her boobs were bigger, Windy rules.
But the summer’s not all dancing and boob wishes. Rose finds herself in the middle of a family conflict as her parents spend more and more time arguing and her mom spends more and more time in her room. And then there’s Duncan, the older guy who works at the corner store. Rose becomes a little bit obsessed with his drama, the way you get obsessed with things when there’s not much going on in the summer.
There isn’t a lot of action in This One Summer, and there isn’t necessarily a big climactic scene or a tidy resolution. That just made me like the book even more. As the title suggests, this book is about one summer and everything that happens during it—the good, the bad, the fun, and the fights. This is, essentially, a coming-of-age story, and it deals mostly with the harsh realities that come with growing up.
It’s also important to note that the artwork in this book is insanely gorgeous. It’s drawn in blue ink, which gives everything a sort of hazy, nostalgic, melancholy feeling that complements the story. And, I mean, just LOOK at it:
In addition to the killer artwork, the book also manages to tackle some big issues, like teen pregnancy and the destructive nature of slut-shaming. This One Summer smartly tackles the problem of girls judging one another based on their sexuality, and provides a heroine brave enough to combat it. When Rose says something mean about another girl, Windy doesn’t hesitate to call her out on it.
This One Summer doesn’t wrap things up neatly; at the end, there are still dangling threads everywhere. But that’s okay. This is, after all, just one summer, and it’s such a pleasure to step into the lives of Rose and Windy, even for a little bit. Their friendship, and the way it morphs into a new shape over the summer, will feel incredibly familiar to lots of girls. They love each other, even when they’re driving each other crazy or embarrassing one another. The growing pains of childhood friendships is one of the weirdest, most uncomfortable parts of getting older.
This One Summer is quiet, contemplative, and thoughtful. In other words, it’s the perfect beach read when you’re looking for a break from fast-paced thrillers and steamy romances.
What about you guys? Have you read This One Summer? What’s your favorite summer read? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave me a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.