This One Summer, a graphic novel by Jillian Tamaki, is a brilliant story about friendship, family, and all the confusing and fascinating feelings that go along with growing up.
Each summer since they could remember, Rose and Windy's families met up at Awago Beach where the girls would spend two carefree weeks swimming, watching movies, eating sugary snacks, and just being kids. Needless to say, Rose has been looking forward to summer all year long. But this summer things have changed, and not for the better...and Rose would give almost anything to get back that innocence of those past summers. Rose, now almost a teenager, finds she's occasionally annoyed by Windy's childish behavior (Windy is a couple years younger). Why did these things about her old friend never bother her before? What's more, Rose's mother is constantly angry about something mysterious, something she won't talk about, and this is causing nearly constant tension between her parents. Nothing about Awago Beach is the same anymore, and this worries Rose.
Then, when things couldn't get any more complicated, they do! Rose and Windy suddenly find themselves in the middle of some very grown-up drama involving a group of local teens. And they are forced to open their eyes to the reality that Awago Beach may not be (and may never have been) the idyllic sanctuary they always believed it to be.
I don't read a lot of graphics, preferring print books, but This One Summer caught my eye--and I'm glad I picked it up. Characterization is phenomenal and the theme (the struggle and confusion of being caught between childhood and adolescence) is something that's universally understood. I'd definitely recommend this one! --AJB