Some works of art are so delicate, so simple in their beauty, that any words you use to describe them feel clumsy and oafish in comparison. But you want to tell other people about them, so they too will experience them and fall in love with them. And it’s hard to tell people about stuff without using words. I’m facing this same dilemma today, and I think the best I can do is to write the shortest review I can.
This One Summer is a graphic novel about Rose, a girl in her pre-teens. Every summer, she goes to the same tiny beach town with her mother and father, where she hangs out with her summer best friend Windy, goes for swims in the lake, collects pebbles and counts the stars in the night sky. This one summer, though, things are different. Rose’s mother is preoccupied with something, and doesn’t want to join in the fun. And Rose becomes fascinated with the teenagers that hang out at the town’s general store, renting R-rated films so she has an excuse to talk to the older boy at the cash register.
With an impressive economy of words, Mariko Tamaki perfectly captures: the strange sense of the grownup world kids create for themselves out of overheard conversations and films they’re too young for; the complicated nuances in the way kids relate to their parents, to their friends, to their friends’ parents; the difference being a year and a half older can make between childhood friends; utter heartbreak, and life-changing realisations.
With an impressive economy of strokes, Jillian Tamaki perfectly captures: the way time flows differently when you’re on holiday; the way time flows differently when you’re a young kid; pregnant silences; infatuated gazes; the way sorrow can affect your posture; the weird dance moves your best friend practices in front of you.
This One Summer is a quiet book, it’s a beautiful book, so drop whatever you’re doing and go and read it.