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Monday, September 28, 2015

YA Review: This One Summer

Well, it's not really summer anymore! How about we squeeze one last summer book in, though, because I need a September post and I've been too busy moving and stuff to do anything more fall-like. Plus, I really liked this book, and this review has been sitting in my drafts for weeks.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, with illustrations by Jillian Tamaki

Published: Goodreads says the first edition was January 1st, 2014, but I can't find that edition on Goodreads. My edition is from Groundwood Books and was published May 1st, 2014.
Genre: Contemporary YA Graphic Novel
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 319
Part of a series? No, I don't believe so.
Got via: I borrowed it from the library, and it is very overdue and needs to go back tomorrow. Hence the writing of the review at 2:30 in the morning.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It's her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family.

But this summer is different.

Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It's a summer of secrets and heartache, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Review: I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but as soon as I saw this, I knew I had to try it. The first thing I noticed was how the two girls have quite different body types. Rose is tall and thin, whereas Windy is short and a little chubby. The book is pretty good about having a variety of body types. There aren't really any people that are visibly fat, but several are pudgy, and even some of the thin characters have realistic stomach rolls when they bend, or back fat. That alone wins some of my favour, honestly.

This is a lot deeper than you'd expect looking at the cover, I think. The subject matter is quite serious a lot of the time, but it strikes me as incredibly truthful. The girls talk like real girls, about their bodies and crushes and how they're starting to understand the world, and the things they experience are real things. I just *sigh* I really liked this.

Plot Talk: I don't really know how to describe the plot of graphic novels. The summary describes it pretty well without spoiling things, and also it's almost 3am so. The plot and me are cool. It works well with the format. I need to go to bed soon.

Characters: I really liked the characters. It's amazing how much characterization can be portrayed through the graphic novel format. There are little things that tell you so much about a character, like Rose's new horror movie fixation, and how the girls like to try and scare themselves silly. I loved the friendship between the girls, how they have to kind of get to know each other again since it's been a year since the last time they've seen each other.

I think Rose is about eleven, and Windy is a year and a half younger. Both girls are still unsure what their bodies will look like once they grow breasts (and they talk about it, ha), so I'd doubt Rose was more than twelve or thirteen at the absolute most. I don't think it says exactly, but I think Windy's about ten. It's a very hard age for girls, I think, and Rose especially is having a difficult summer, She pushes some limits, and at times her experience is somewhat uncomfortable, but she's real.

Windy's mother seems to be somewhat of the hippy type. Windy went to a summer dance camp called Gaia's Circle, and her mom is a vegan. But one thing that I loved was that she pointed out a lot of sexism, between stuff in the horror movies they watched, to things that Rose said, and it's clear that any kind of slut-shaming or sexism makes her pretty uncomfortable. I really adore that in books, and it's not something you see as often as I'd hope!

PG-13 stuff: There's a lot of stuff. There's a lot of language. The girls talk very frankly about a lot of things, from their bodies to oral sex. The girls are sort of on the edge of an older group of kids, with Rose especially observing and being curious about the older kids, and a lot of the older subject matter is inspired by that group, but some of it is a little more organic, especially Rose's family issues. There's a fair amount of talk about pregnancy, slut-shaming, cheating, and one thing that I didn't see coming and thought was incredibly brave to show like that, but everything in general is handled well.

This is the kind of book that people don't want to admit that kids need. I think a lot of people would recommend this for older teens, but honestly, younger kids could hande this, and would likely connect to that idea of being on the fringe of the adult world, and not quite being sure if you're ready for that, or if you understand it.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: More fat bodies, and more characters who weren't white would be good, but I enjoyed this one a lot, and I really didn't have a ton of complaints.

Cover comments: I really like it. I like the addition of an orange colour to Rose's bathing suit, and I really do like that Windy has a bit of a rounder tummy, and wears a two-piece. No tummy shame! The orange is only in the cover, by the way. The rest of the book, I'm pretty sure is done in blue tones. My lighting is not great at night in this room, and frankly I'm getting tired and it's getting hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure it's all blue tones.

Conclusion: This one is worth the overdue fees. I think it's a great summer book, and if I had had the chance, I would have loved to have read it outside. I was surprised by the depth of the book, and the subjects tackled, but they were wonderfully done, and I loved the anti-sexism conversations. More of that in books for girls of this age! (Which is not to say boys and other people wouldn't enjoy this one, but I spend a lot of time thinking about how I'd feel about giving books to girls, and what messages they'd send, and one that sends feminist messages is refreshing.) The book also didn't go any of the directions I was scared it would. I loved that it was set in Ontario, and it felt Canadian to me. It's quarter after three so I need to wrap this up, so let's just say I very much recommend this one. Four and a half out of five.

Other notes:

I got a September post up!

Peace and cookies,