Rose and her family stay at a lakeside cabin every summer, where Rose hangs out with the slightly younger Windy. Together the two girls roam the small town, renting scary movies to appear more mature to the boys who work at the local convenience store. Rose’s crush consumes her, but younger Windy doesn’t understand and wants to still play and be silly, like the kid she is. While Rose struggles with her own feelings, her parents are fighting so much that her father goes home, and only returns to the cabin on weekends. Rose can’t relate to her mother, who seems wrapped up in her own sadness, so she struggles to find her place between the contrasting worlds of childhood and adulthood.
The panels in this novel are realistically drawn, so the characters show relatable emotions in their expressions and actions. The whole book is printed in dark blue ink, calling to mind the water of the lake Rose and Windy swim in. The whole approach to the book’s style and layout give it the importance necessary for such a coming of age story.
The story of the summer is interesting and accessible for teens of all ages and backgrounds, but one is left with a feeling of sadness at the end of the book. Just like in real life, all the loose ends are not neatly tied up. This is a strength AND a weakness, because books that have a happy ending just because don’t seem genuine, and won’t satisfy most teens. Then again, the overall sadness of this story could bring teens down at a time when their emotions are easily influenced. That doesn’t mean that the book should be avoided, but I don’t think it would be as popular as some more light-hearted graphic novels, especially with graphic novels holding so much appeal to reluctant readers.
Though Rose is going through puberty, and Windy a year behind her, this book seems best for older teens. The underlying stories of Rose’s mother’s sadness and the town’s teens’ drama are better suited for an older audience. All ages of young adults could enjoy the book, however, because the experience of spending summer at the lake with a friend seems timeless and relatable: letting loose with someone you don’t see too often, in a place where no one really knows you and no routine holds you down. Adults and older teens might feel a bit of nostalgia as they read, while younger teens might currently be experiencing a lot that Rose does.
This One Summer
focuses on a specific vacation Rose and her family take. Many other graphic novels are about a short period of time as well. Have teens think of an experience in their life that was particularly monumental, difficult, or even funny. Have them tell that story in concise panels that depend more on illustration than narrative or dialogue. If the teens aren’t artistic, offer a selection of magazines they can cut images from to make collage panels. The panels can be pasted on a larger sheet of paper and folded into a book or zine, or if the stories are too personal to share, collect them all about fifteen minutes before the program ends. Shuffle them together, lay them face down on a table, and let teens pick seven to ten frames. See if they can put these assorted panels together into a new story, or let them keep those panels and add more of their own creation to make a cohesive story.
Books about a certain time in a teen’s life are popular because the emotions are so raw, and everyone can relate to these coming-of-age stories. Telling these stories in graphic novel form adds another layer to the story, because the emotions can be clearly expressed in illustration beyond what words alone make us feel.
+ Halliday, Ayun. Peanut
. Illus. Paul Hoppe. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2012. Print.
Sadie is starting a new school, and she’s not sure how she’s going to make friends - so she pretends to have a peanut allergy. This gets her plenty of attention and sympathy from her peers, but when the teachers and nurse get involved, Sadie’s not sure she can keep up her lie.
+ Telgemeier, Raina. Smile
. New York: Graphix, 2010. Print.
Raina knocked out her two front teeth, resulting in years of dental experiments and braces during the crucial time of middle and high school.
+ Mucha, Corinne. Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other
. San Francisco, CA: Zest Books, 2011. Print.
Annie is a freshman in high school dealing with a crush, delicate friendships, and trying to learn how to act at parties.
Marcus, Leonard S. “Some Vacation: This One Summer
.” Horn Book Magazine
91.4 (2015): 61-64. Academic Search Complete
. Web. 26 Jul. 2015.
Read it for yourself!
Tamaki, Mariko. This One Summer
. Illus. Jillian Tamaki. New York: First Second, 2014. Print.
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