4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
This One Summer is the story of two young girls, just coming into their teenage years, who meet up every summer by the sea. It is a tale of long, hot summer days and cool nights, crushes on older boys and that awkwardness that comes with initial contact, growing out of old habits and interests and most of all, growing up.
Rose is probably about thirteen or fourteen years old, and Windy a year and a half younger. The two of them have that innocence of the young, whilst showing interest in things beyond their years. In the day they play on the beach and in the woods, at night they secretly rent out classic horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Nightmare on Elm Street from the local shop, where they also (at least in Rose’s case) take an interest in the local boys. The story perfectly captures that time in life where everything is changing, and you’re sort of stuck in a limbo between a child and a young adult.
Beyond the idyllic seaside setting though, is a darker picture. Although at first it appears that Rose’s family is a close one, threads begin to unravel and the reader sees that her mother is withdrawn and sullen. Rose is not the only one having troubles: the story also follows a group of teenagers from Awago Beach (through Roses’s eyes), until the two stories end up twisting together in a heart-breaking conclusion. The carefree summer days are interspersed with tense moments, until the truth finally comes out toward the end of the book.
From the very beginning I loved the art-style, but I wasn’t sure about the choice of going for an all blue colour palette. However, it grew on me and actually worked really well within the story: I was reminded of the cool sea breeze, chilly summer nights and the salty ocean – all very fitting for this particular book. The fact that the older boy that Rose had a crush one wasn’t typically ‘handsome’ was also a good move: young adult books with movie star crushes seem all too common.
My main issue with the book was the rather open ending. It concluded some things, but many questions were left unanswered. As well as this, I felt the word ‘like’ was rather overused. I know it’s quite common for teenagers to overuse that word, but it gets on my nerves reading it! It could have been used less, and still given a similar impression.
Overall, a really lovely coming-of-age graphic novel that covers much of the awkwardness of that stage between being a child and a young adult – and it also covers and discusses some more adult themes. With some lovely art and interesting characters (and realistic), it could also be a great way for fans of contemporary to start with graphic novels.