This graphic novel is supposedly for the 12-18 age group, but I have to wonder if it isn't more for adults who have lived through that age. I would have liked it if I'd read it back in the day, but now, as a mother and, bluntly, person way past my teens, I think I find more complexity in this book, more that's flawed but sympathetic about the characters, than I would have back then. Isn't that what makes a book good, though? That you can read it at different life stages and find ways to appreciate it? Sorry, crazy lady from Slate who says adults shouldn't read YA. You're wrong.
Anyway. This One Summer is written and illustrated by cousins Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, and it's a beautiful partnership. It's the story of Rose and Windy, whose families have been taking them to Awago Beach in the summer for years. They're friends who love to hang out and play and talk. But this summer, there are some subtle differences: Rose's parents can't seem to get along; Rose's mother continues to withdraw; Rose herself finds some of Windy's behavior annoying and childish; and an object of Rose's shy affection turns out to be involved with another girl, with graver consequences.
This is such a lovely coming of age story. We feel Rose's frustration with Windy at times, even if she doesn't seem to realize it or why she feels that way, and we see her struggle with what's happening between her parents. As an adult, I can see what's happening with the parents more clearly than Rose can, and I can see how that year-and-a-half age difference between Rose and Windy can become problematic at a certain stage of life, something Rose doesn't yet understand.
The illustrations are beautiful, sometimes more broadly drawn like a comic book, other times with more detail. All the characters are carefully detailed, both in terms of artwork and story. This is a lovely book, for any age.