Summary: Up at her family’s cottage for the summer, Rose and her friend Windy are inseparable, watching horror movies, checking out the local guy at the corner store, spying on the older teens in town and talking about growing up. Often overlooked, Rose is an observer, watching her parents struggle with their marriage in the face of her mother’s depression, and witnessing local girl Jenny try to make her boyfriend take responsibility for the fact that she’s pregnant. Being a woman is more complicated than Rose and Windy originally thought, and this one summer will show them what growing up really means.
Number of Pages: 319
Age Range: 12-14
Review: While Jillian Tamaki’s illustrations are instantly memorable and expressive, pulling their reader into memories of cottage season in Canada, it took me a bit to realise the beauty of Mariko Tamaki’s story. This One Summer captures a poignant story of two girls on the cusp of maturity. Rose and Windy are gazing into their future and realising womanhood is more complex than just getting boobs.
The backstories are telling. Jenny, a local girl, is pregnant and being continually rebuffed by her boyfriend as he refuses to take responsibility. Witness to Jenny kissing another guy, Rose questions whether the baby is Dunc’s like Jenny says it is or not. Since Dunc seems to be Rose’s first crush, Rose sees him in an idealistic light, but the events of the summer change her point of view.
Rose’s mother is depressed, but it isn’t till Rose overhears her mother talking to another adult that she realises why. At a loss as to how to console her, Rose’s father gives her mother space instead, leaving mother and daughter at the cottage when Rose’s mother is in no shape to care for either one of them.
I enjoyed the female culture of this book. It is the women that truly have the pulse on what’s going on, and they are also the only ones able to console each other when things go wrong. It’s as if Rose is being introduced into a world she never knew about, but of which she will soon be a member. I’d recommend it for early female teen readers, but I think it works for women as well.
Memorable Quotes: The cover is just one of many gorgeous illustrations in this book. Jillian Tamaki gives Mariko Tamaki’s story a solid background with illustrations that capture adolescence and summer life in its entirety.