Book Review: This One Summer (Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki)

Publisher: First Second

Pages: 320

Release Date: May 6th 2014

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.


This was a low key story with beautiful illustrations to match.

In This One Summer we follow Rose and her family, who spend every summer at a lake house in Awago Beach. Rose is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, that uncomfortable stage when you’re not a kid anymore but not quite an adult either. This summer her parents are arguing and she escapes to hang out with her friend Windy, who is a year and a half younger.

The friendship between Rose and Windy is sweet, though you can see some tensions there as the age difference between them begins to matter. Windy is constantly looking to Rose for approval and reassurance, punctuating half her sentences with ‘kidding’ just to be on the safe side. At that age, a small age gap like that can make all the difference but the girls have summered together for years and their friendship stays strong through the difficulties. As they try to escape Rose’s parents arguments they find drama with the local teens instead.

I can see this book not being for everyone as it’s a bit laid back. It’s not full of action and suspense and big revelations: there’s just a lot of conversations and observations which give it a really chilled out feel to the read. The colour scheme adds to this too, as there’s a blue wash to the gorgeous graphics that adds to the summery feeling in a way I think a traditional black and white wouldn’t manage.

I found the story line between Rose’s parents really sad and think it was handled beautifully. It was interesting to see this from Rose’s point of view, in the selfish way that teens can have sometimes when they think everything should be about them. Rose sees her mother’s behaviour as selfish when really she’s just struggling through her own problems.

I really enjoyed this book as a relaxing read rather than some of the tense, fast paced stuff I’ve been reading lately. It’s also so beautiful I could just stare at the pictures for hours. A definite recommended summer read.


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