Wednesday, July 15, 2015

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

Rose Wallace's family have been going to Awago Beach every summer since, in Rose's words "like forever."

I'm going to be honest, this beautiful graphic novel had me hooked as soon as I saw the illustrated Tim Horton's coffee cup nestled snugly in the cup holder of Rose's father's car. I had no idea this was about a Canadian holiday, luckily, I had no idea what this story was about before reading it, which is, I think, the best way to approach it. 

Due to the aforementioned Tim Horton's cup, This One Summer caused a deluge of memories for me: Visiting my grandparent's cottage on the lake in southwestern Nova Scotia, canning to the tiny sandy beaches sprinkled around the lake like smears of whip cream against the dark green backdrop of the woods beyond them. Making campfires, roasting s'mores, accidentally putting a fish hook straight through my friend Cory's finger and watching him faint from the sight of it and my brother and I having to literally carry him the half mile back to the - wait, I'm going off on a tangent here, back to This One Summer.

Every summer, Rose meets her friend Wendy, who stays in a nearby cottage. This particular summer, Rose and Wendy decide to plough through as many horror movies as they can, rented from the local convenience store, which also sells a barrage of candy and of course, turkey jerky. Rose is also struck by the boy who works at the store, even though he's much older, 18 to her 13? 14? We're never really told how old Rose is but it doesn't matter, her experience throughout this story can cover the entire tween to early teen experience.

The summer isn't spent in idyllic bliss, however. Rose must deal with her parent's constant bickering, which surrounds a family secret that I won't spoil here, you'll just have to read it.

Family secret aside, Rose's mother refuses to allow herself to enjoy one second of her time at Awago Beach, something that only deepens the rift between her and Rose's father. So much so, that her dad leaves one night, telling Rose that he has to go back to the city to catch up on work.

There's also a side plot running just under the family secret one. It surrounds the boy who works at the convenience store and an unplanned pregnancy and somehow Rose, Wendy and their parents get more involved then they want to.

This One Summer might not be an obvious choice for a site like Guys Lit Wire but as a guy who loves dungeon-crawling video games and graphic novels & books like "Sleeper" and "Post Office," this one hit me hard with its gorgeous illustrations and coming of age story with a punch.

Recommended to anyone with a beating heart.

You can check out this review and many more on my new YA book review site, The Angster, here. 

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