Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review: This One Summer

This One Summer
By Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Published 2014 by First Second

Rose and her parents always spend the summer at a house in Awago Beach. But this summer is not like the others before it. Her parents seem to be fighting a lot, and when Rose seeks a distraction, she and her friend Windy only end up finding more drama. What will this one summer change for them?

Obviously, I've been meaning to read this book for a long time - probably a year ago is when I first started hearing about it. At the beginning of this year, it won both Printz and Caldecott Honors - something no book has done before. My interest in the book only grew at that point, and I put a hold on the library copy, waiting for it to arrive.

I've speculated before that, sometimes, reading a book after you've heard the hype machine run for a while doesn't do great things for one's opinion of the book. I fear that may be the case with my feelings for this book. But...

I didn't love it? Actually, that's not entirely true. I LOVED the art - it's absolutely wonderful and Tamaki completely deserves her Caldecott and I really applaud the committee for recognizing the beauty in this artwork.

However, if you take away the art, there's nothing left for me to love. I really had no interest in the story, and I don't think it was fleshed out in a way that really captured my attention. It felt underdeveloped - well, parts of it, anyway - and a bit disjointed. I think it's a really interesting look at how a parent's grief, particularly over something one may not fully understand, can impact a child and the cyclical nature of parent-child relationships. But I felt Rose's relationship with Windy was not as strong as I would have expected prior to reading, and their involvement in the other drama going on around Awago Beach never really fit for me. Additionally, I understand what the climax of the book is supposed to be, but it didn't feel all that climactic really. I just have a really hard time thinking the writing here is worthy of a Printz Honor. But, what do I know?

Overall, definitely not my favorite graphic novel. I'm excited to take a look at some of the titles from the Great Graphic Novels list next.

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