Friday, May 02, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #121: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Six years ago, a graphic novel called Skim, written and drawn by two cousins, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, appeared out of nowhere. (Or out of Canada, at least: I'm sure there are people who saw the creators' work before that, but they weren't many of them.) Skim was a lovely, touching, deeply felt story of one teen girl and her life, told equally well through words and pictures and signalling the arrival of a formidable team. It won an Ignatz, the Doug Wright award, and was nominated for four Eisners.

And now the Tamakis are back with This One Summer, another story of a girl and her complicated life, and again they tell the story brilliantly, with gorgeous blue-washed art and always just the right tone and nuance to show rather than tell. Whatever else I tell you about This One Summer, remember this: it's as true as the best novel and as evocative as a great painting. It will be marketed mostly to teens, but don't let them take it away: it's for all of us who love stories about people and their complicated lives.

The central character of This One Summer is Rose. She's seems to be about eleven, maybe ten, arriving at the bungalow on Aswago Beach that her family has summered in for many years. She's got a great summer friend in Windy, another single child a year and a half younger. Her parents are going through a rough time, for reasons that become clearer as the book winds forward. And Rose herself is growing older and trying to discover or create her teen self: not interested in the fort-building she and Windy did last year, watching horror movies, and complicatedly crushing on Dunc, the boy who works in the one store in town.

This One Summer is quiet and atmospheric, without big moments or sudden surprises -- it's like life, happening moment by moment and adding up to much more than you expect quicker than you imagine. Every moment, every panel is a carefully crafted gem, with just the right words and pictures. I expect this book to be just as acclaimed, and win just as many awards, as its predecessor.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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