This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
This One Summer immerses the reader into a nostalgic summer retreat at Awago Beach with the adolescent main character Rose, her parents, her friend Misty, and other characters from the surrounding small town. The coming-of-age story reflects Rose’s perspective as she observes those around her and tries to make sense of what she sees. She follows the drama of teenage “Dunc” who works at the local mom-and-pop shop and won’t take responsibility when a girl becomes pregnant and identifies him as the father. When witnessing her parents fight, Rose makes assumptions about the reasons, but it turns out she is unaware of deeper roots. She may not be able to understand all that she observes, but she is noticing details that she was likely oblivious to in the past. As she explores Awago Beach, discovering the literal trash hidden behind people’s fences, she simultaneously becomes aware of the emotional baggage that others figuratively carry. She even gains her own role in their webbed stories when spotting someone in danger and getting them help. Working in a school, I can predict concerns regarding some of the language, but I found it works to realistically portray the experience of children transitioning from a sheltered and protected existence to a more expansive worldview that includes grittier elements and suffering. Overall, I enjoyed the beautiful artwork of This One Summer and feel it effectively transported me to experience the summer along with Rose, while also reconnecting me with my own childhood emotions.