Rummanah Aasi
 This One Summer has received many starred reviews. It was listed as an Caldecott Honor as well as a Printz Honor book last year. This One Summer is about the rough transition between idyllic childhood to skeptical young adulthood.

Description: 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.

Review: Every summer, Rose and her parents vacation at a lakeside cottage. The problems of everyday life are put on pause as Rose is reunited with her friend Windy and relishes in the leisure offerings of playing games of MASH, swimming, and the joy of digging giant holes in the sand, but this summer is different. Rose's parents are fighting. Her mother is distant and isolating herself, while her father struggles to maintain his carefree persona. Rose, herself, is on the cusp of adolescence; not quite ready to leave the comforts of childhood behind but drawn and fascinated by the older teens who are caught up in their own dramas fueled by alcohol and having fun. Rose and Windy are voyeurs into the older teen's universe, toeing the mysterious line of teen life by experimenting with new vocabulary and renting R rated horror movies.
 This One Summer offers a slice of life of lazy summer days, but it gradually unfolds into a complex narrative of a fragile family trying to overcome a loss and Rose's ambivalence toward growing up. The two world are told separately for most of the graphic novel, but soon connect. I really wanted Rose to know what was going on with her parents, because it would clear up a lot of her confusion and make a bigger impact on the big reveal of the story but that doesn't happen. Like life, there are no happy endings tied in a perfect bow, but hope is lingering. The mood throughout the graphic novel is thoughtful, quiet, almost meditative. The artwork is visually stunning. The muted tones of the monochromatic blue-on-white illustrations are perfectly suited to the story's ambiance. This is not a graphic novel that you should read quickly, but rather a close read of the dialogue and panels will allow you to pick up the subtleties of the story. The incompleteness of the book may be deliberate as we watch a young girl enjoy her confusing in-between time filled with curiosity, yearning, and insecurity.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is language, underage drinking, crude humor, allusions to sex, and adult situations. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, Chiggers by Hope Larson
5 Responses
  1. On my first read through, I didn't care for this book. Then after setting it down and thought about it almost continually for a few weeks before I gave a rather thorough second read. Then the brilliance of this coming-of-age story really hit me full force. I was reluctant to add it to my Mock Printz list last year because of the language and the sexual content but decided to add it at the last minute. It was never a favorite of my teen readers but many acknowledged that it did get that time period/that cusp between childhood and adulthood just right.

  2. I think this one is one that you must take time to absorb. I would love to see the illustrations.

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    I would never have guessed this was a graphic novel by the cover! I agree with Heidi, I would love to see what was inside. :)

  4. That last sentence "The incompleteness of the book may be deliberate as we watch a young girl enjoy her confusing in-between time filled with curiosity, yearning, and insecurity." really seems to tell all. This sounds like a great coming of age book. Brilly review.

  5. Glad you liked this pretty well. Its been on my list for quite awhile.

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