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Last Updated on January 12, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 965

Authors: Mariko Tamaki (b. 1975) and Jillian Tamaki (b. 1980)

First published: 2014

Type of work: Graphic novel

Type of plot: Realism

Time of plot: Present

Locale: Awago Beach, Ontario

Principal characters

Rose Abigail Wallace, a preteen girl whose family is struggling

Windy, her younger summer friend

Alice ...

(The entire section contains 965 words.)

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Authors: Mariko Tamaki (b. 1975) and Jillian Tamaki (b. 1980)

First published: 2014

Type of work: Graphic novel

Type of plot: Realism

Time of plot: Present

Locale: Awago Beach, Ontario

Principal characters

Rose Abigail Wallace, a preteen girl whose family is struggling

Windy, her younger summer friend

Alice, her mother

Evan, her father

Dunc, a teenage boy who works at the local store

Jenny, his girlfriend

The Story

Rose is excited to go to Awago Beach, where her family vacations every summer. Almost as soon as the family arrives, she runs next door to find her friend Windy. The two girls play together, talking about silly things and watching scary movies on DVD. Windy's exuberant personality contrasts with Rose's calmer persona. As the two do simple things together, several side stories emerge. Rose's parents are struggling; their failed attempts to have another child have damaged their relationship, and though Rose's dad, Evan, tries to comfort his daughter, his attempts are weak, leaving her confused. When he leaves the family to spend some time alone, she is further traumatized. In addition, Rose, who is a year and a half older than Windy, is beginning to feel the difference in their ages, and Windy's childish behavior often stresses the friendship since Rose is starting to lose patience with the younger girl and their traditional activities. Rose also finds herself drawn to an older teen boy, Dunc, who works at the local convenience store, but he has his own set of problems: his girlfriend has found out that she is pregnant, and he does not know how to deal with the news. Courtesy of Macmillan

The story progresses through a ten-day vacation. The girls' daily activities, family interactions, and observances of the local teen group make up the majority of the action. Despite a sizable age difference, Rose's growing crush on Dunc, who is closer to eighteen than Rose's twelve, adds conflict, especially since he is struggling with his own romantic involvement. Rose's and Windy's activities vary. They spend quite a bit of time doing childish things, such as visiting the local heritage village with Windy's mother and grandmother, talking about breast size, and spying on the local teens. Since Rose is starting to move past childish behavior and is worried about her family's problems, she struggles with some of these situations, lashing out at her mother and even Windy.

The story comes to a climax one night on the beach. Evan has returned to the cabin. Rose's mother, Alice, is trying to be involved, and the family is having a bonfire on the beach with Windy's family. Rose has recently overheard Alice and Windy's mom, Evelyn, talking about the previous summer, when Alice had a miscarriage that she has not shared with Rose. Rose is torn between being angry at her parents for keeping it from her, feeling inadequate because her mother wants another child, and being hopeful because her father has returned and her parents seem to be trying. When Rose and Windy go to the local grocery to get marshmallows, they walk through a teen party where Jenny and Dunc are publicly fighting over her pregnancy. Jenny runs away from the party, and Rose finds her floating in the water a short time later. In her panic, Rose calls for her mother, who saves the girl. This situation highlights depression as an important issue.

The story ends with Rose feeling more hopeful about her family. Her mother has faced her grief and seems to be healing, her friendship with Windy has been restored to its former innocence, and Jenny is recovering.

Critical Evaluation

This One Summer is the second graphic novel by cousins Jillian Tamaki, a cartoonist and illustrator, and Mariko Tamaki, a writer. In 2015 it became the first graphic novel to be given a Caldecott Honor for illustration and to be named a Printz Honor Book for best young-adult fiction. The illustrations do a beautiful job of showing a range of emotions, from the angst experienced by Rose, her mother, and the local teens to the exuberance that oozes out of Windy's every movement. The speech bubbles share just enough dialogue to give readers a sense of the action as well as the characters' internal dialogue.

The Tamakis confront several serious issues in the novel. The threat of divorce, infertility, and depression pull at Rose, who is not quite an adult and does not completely understand her part in the family situation. Teen sex and pregnancy are additional deep issues the novel confronts. Jenny and another older teen girl freely talk about sex in front of the younger girls in an effort to embarrass them, but Rose and Windy learn of Jenny's pregnancy by accident when they overhear a conversation between Dunc and another boy. When Dunc refuses to believe that Jenny's baby is his, her attempted suicide further illustrates the seriousness of the situation. Varied forms of grief are also explored through Alice's miscarriage and infertility, Rose's fear over a potential divorce, and Dunc's continued rejection of Jenny's pregnancy.

Further Reading

  • Marcus, Leonard S. "Some Vacation: This One Summer." Review of This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. The Horn Book Magazine, July–Aug. 2015, pp. 61–64. Literary Reference Center Plus, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=103656753&site=lrc-plus. Accessed 16 Mar. 2018.
  • Tamaki, Jillian, and Mariko Tamaki. "In Conversation with Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki." Interview by Kayi Wong. Room, vol. 38, no. 2, 2015, pp. 50–62. Literary Reference Center Plus, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=103335349&site=lrc-plus. Accessed 16 Mar. 2018.
  • Review of This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Publishers Weekly, 18 Nov. 2014, p. 112. Literary Reference Center Plus, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=99627053&site=lrc-plus. Accessed 16 Mar. 2018.
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