The Opal Octopus

Reading and reviews by the Indian Ocean

Review: This One Summer


This One Summer
by Mariko Tamaki

Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
Published by Macmillan
on 2014-05-06
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Review: This One Summer

This beautiful graphic novel is set in the beachside holiday town of Awago. Rose and her “summer friend” Windy stay in cottages with their families, swim, watch horror movies, and hang out at the local store.
car turning off bush track at signposts
As the friends hang out at the edges of the dramas of the local older teenagers and the adults in their families, we also see into the beginnings of Rose’s pubertal turmoil and desire.

two girls on a beach. One says 'That's the problem with being adopted. I have no idea how big my boobs are going to be.' The other:'Breasts.' The first:'Ha ha! Brrrrreasts!', holding her bikini top.

This One Summer┬áis a lyrical show-don’t-tell look at liminal times in girls’/women’s lives – not just preteen and teen years, but also the end of childbearing. This is a book of friendship, yearnings, overhearings, silences, loss, fear, grief, and aftermath.

I love that the book feels authentic. I love the weaving metaphors of stones and water. I love the lush blue & white art. I love that bodies with diverse shapes are shown.

There was just one thing I didn’t love – the way that the slightly chubbier friend was always shown guzzling sugar. This felt judgy and jarring in comparison with the rest of the book. But overall, a big win.

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