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This One Summer
Groundwood Books
Created by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
320 pages
age 13-18
Graphic Novel

Synopsis from Groundwood Books:

Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration
Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have visited Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this year is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. From the creators of Skim comes an investigation into the mysterious world of adults.

For many summer means heading up to the family cottage, a community that reconnects during those two months of the year when school is out. This One Summer is a glimpse of that world through the eyes of a young teen, Rose, and her cottage friend Windy. There’s visits to the small convenience store, the central hub for grabbing a treat or renting a DVD and finding that summer crush. There’s exploring the tall grass and quiet wooded area when the teens hang out after dark. There’s trips to the beach, digging holes in the sand and swimming in the lake. There’s all that summer cottage experience but there’s also the lives of those who live in the community.

Sometimes an escape to the cottage has us more focused on our thoughts and time with the family. It means creating moments like toasting s’mores over a fire but it also means noticing other things, how people behave and change. Add to that adolescents, feeling awkward and wanting to fit in. This One Summer transports you to that space, both the summer world of the cottage and the escape of the every day. I could empathize with both girls, the changes in their lives that were impacting their relationship. The hidden truths parents keep from their kids to protect them not understanding that secrets create a strain and misunderstandings. I read it as a person who has gone through this stage but my oldest daughter read it as someone entering this stage. She cried at the relationship issues between Rose and her mother, knowing they were avoidable. She was frustrated with the relationship between Rose and her friend Windy, both seemly the same age but at a different stage in their development.

The illustrations in this graphic novel help add to the feel, sharing the worldless aspect to summer, the cottage, and those moments where we just sit. This One Summer is a great summer read for teens, a quick read that touches on relationships and that whole feeling that only summer evokes. Some of subject matter touched on in the book (miscarriage, teen pregnancy, attempted suicide) along with some harsh language make it not appropriate for younger readers but young teens will be sucked right in just like myself and my daughter.

Additional Reading: Mother Number Zero.

You can find a copy of This One Summer from your local bookstore or Groundwood Books. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations.

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