Tuesday, July 1, 2014

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Happy Canada Day! The forecasted high for Edmonton is 27C and it feels like summer. Hooray!

With our long winters, the Canadian tradition to spend time at a lakeside summer residence is understandable. This One Summer is a graphic novel set in cottage country north of Toronto. (We call them cabins here in western Canada.) It's a bittersweet coming of age story by the cousins who created Skim: Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

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 family crisis and spying on teenagers in love.
Escaping the city.

Rose is at puberty's onset, with all the moodiness that entails. Sometimes Windy gets on her nerves now, acting babyish. Rose is also aware that something is awry in her parents' marriage. Jilllian Tamaki's use of blue shades for all of the artwork reflects the melancholy and nostalgia that permeates this nuanced story.
Windy is younger than Rose. This summer their age difference inserts a wedge.
We meet Rose when she is balanced on a fulcrum of impending loss: of her innocence, of the security of her family unit, and of unchanging friendship with Windy. Yet she still inhabits the world of her younger self, enjoying carefree and unstructured days. Awareness of other people's troubles -- teenage pregnancy, adult depression -- gradually pierce Rose's self-centered consciousness.
Lovely details: Dad with cheeks rosy from alcohol, wearing a Maple Leafs shirt; Rose leaning towards her  mom.
The characters resonate and the setting is fully realized in this poignant novel. I'm grateful for receiving a review copy from Groundwood Books.

Readalikes with young people on the cusp of change: Chiggers (Hope Larson); The 10 PM Question (Kate De Goldi); The Fire-eaters (David Almond).

Quintessential scene in cottage country. Reminds me of real-life Wasaga Beach.

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