Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way, and I am not being compensated to write this review.

"I didn't love it, as there were many aspects that bothered me a bit, but I didn't hate it either."

The synopsis completely drew me in at first, as well as the illustrations. I'm very new to graphic novels, but I enjoy reading them when I want to read something in a non-traditional book format. Plus, these tend to be quick reads for me. (I finished This One Summer in one sitting.)

I'm new to reviewing graphic novels, but I had relatively high expectations for this book for various reasons. I wasn't necessarily disappointed, but the book didn't turn out to be what I thought it was going to be (if that makes sense). I didn't love it, as there were many aspects that bothered me a bit, but I didn't hate it either.

Firstly, I don't know if it's because it's a graphic novel and thus very different from other books, but I really couldn't feel any connection to the characters, nor did I particularly feel anything towards them. I also felt that there was a lack of character development. There seemed to be a very interesting, well thought out set up because of the events in the book that would have allowed for great character development, but by the end, I felt like it fell a bit flat. I don't know that any of the book's characters learned anything from the events of the summer, and that bothered me a lot.

Another huge aspect that bothered me was what seemed to be very blatant slut-shaming and sexism in the book. I don't know if the intention was to do this so as to spark a conversation about the topic, but it seemed like very poor choice and taste in my opinion. There's one part when Windy calls Rose out on her sexism and slut-shaming, but Rose just goes on to make fun of Windy. This bothered me for so many reasons, but one of the things that bothered me most about it was that nothing ever came out of this. Rose didn't learn from it, and I doubt she stopped thinking the way she did, which was what bothered me the most. Maybe it's because she's jealous (in the beginning) of Jenny, but again, it just doesn't stick right with me.

Along the same vein, there were some parts when I really felt bad for Rose, and I really sympathized with her, but then she would say or think things that just really irked me. For example, she would be watching a movie with Windy, and I don't know if she was trying to criticize the girls for being so dumb and not being able to save themselves or if she was criticizing the movie for portraying girls in that way, but it felt as if it were more the former than the latter and that just bothered me so much.

But there were still parts that I enjoyed about the book. I love the complexity of family dynamics portrayed in the book even though I feels like it is left unfinished. I love how, save for slut-shaming, there's a very large representation/diversity of body types, and there's a perceived acceptance of them. I love how Rose and Windy are clearly very different, but they're still great friends. Something that Windy did at the end for Rose, in part out of friendship, in part to acknowledge that she's accepting Rose's VERY UNspoken apology, just tugged at me, and I found that to be one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire book. Additionally, while the ending felt empty and flat in that it left a lot unresolved and was incredibly anticlimactic, I found the symbolism behind the last scene (the image more than the words) to be really powerful and meaningful.
This One Summer: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
Jillian Tamaki: Website | Blog | Tumblr | Twitter
Mariko Tamaki: Website | Twitter


  1. I'm sooo tired of reading about sexism. Gah, isn't it a plot device that's flogged enough? And also, it's still a major issue in SURE write it in books, but resolve it at least. Please! x) Okay, haha...I'll stop my little rant. This sounds pretty interesting...the cover is definitely cute!

    1. Right?! Exactly! I feel like if you don't resolve it, it's like saying you're okay with it or you don't want it to change in society, you know? Maybe that's just how I think, but. *shrug*

      Hehe. The pictures are amazing, but the plot didn't work for me. If you read it, I hope you'll enjoy it!


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