BOOK REVIEW | This One Summer

*Spoiler Free*

I’ve been extremely lucky this year with my courses in school and have somehow managed to land myself into a comic book class. Out of the many comics we have read thus far, there is one that sticks out so much, that I can’t not mention it.

This story is called This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

I might have lied a bit, it’s not a book but a graphic novel, I hope you’ll forgive me.

I have so much to say about this graphic novel. It’s 319 pages of beautifully inked artwork. It’s a bildungsroman, or a coming of age story, about two young girls who are about 15 years old. It takes place over the span of one week at a summer cottage in Canada and it’s just amazing.

I think what I find mostly intriguing about this story is that there is seemingly nothing actually going on throughout the story. From the point of an English major, I can’t really tell you what the purpose is, other than a coming of age story with very few inciting events that help to shape the overall plot. I also use ‘plot’ loosely, as I can’t really pinpoint what the main plot it. I think the fact that there seems to be not much going on is what makes it even more interesting.

Without giving anything away, not that there really is anything to give away, I just think this is a super interesting read for people of all ages. In particular, if you’re a preteen or a younger teenager, it might be relatable, but even reading it as an adult, I was really shocked about how it captivated my attention. I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one sitting and honestly, I want a part two.

This story does deal with more mature content, but I think it’s extremely relatable for younger people in today’s society. I got a very nostalgic feel reading this novel because it harkens back to when I was questioning and thinking about the same things that the two main characters are in the story. I’m very used to reading “old” books for English courses, so having one that was recent, with modern lingo, was very refreshing. I found this story kind of comical in the sense that it was a very familiar scene to my own childhood and I have a feeling a lot of people have as well.

Another very cool thing about this graphic novel is that while it focuses on the main characters, it really actually surrounds the secondary characters. There are the two main girls, but it really goes beyond them and focuses on the characters in the background that in turn, affect their lives and consumes the space in their heads along with their thoughts. In fact, without these secondary or background characters, there would really be absolutely nothing happening in this story. I like that it emphasizes the importance of secondary characters, no matter how flat they are.

The point of view is obviously from this young girls perspective, but it’s almost as if it’s being told as an inner monologue half the time. This is a really refreshing view of the world because as adults, we tend to not think about things in the ways that younger people do, or ways we might have once upon a time. It’s kind of random at times, with inserts of off-handed comments, curious questions, and an insightful way as to how younger people observe those around them.

It took me about an hour to read, mostly because I kept going back to admire the artwork. I’m really appreciative of any story with good artwork. I’m used to reading novels and books with no pictures, but ever since this comic book class, I’ve gotten the chance to read more things with amazing artwork. As a hobby sketcher, the artwork just bumped the awesomeness of this story to a whole new level.

I can firmly say that I’m sure this will be one of my favorite graphics we will read this semester simply because I’m already so taken away with it. If you need another reason to pick up this book, it’s just a quick little read that will leave you thinking afterwards. You could probably finish it on the bus ride to and from work or school and I guarantee it will leave you with a new perspective or at least give you some nostalgic feeling of your younger days.

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