This One Summer: Graphic Novel review

Main image: © Jillian Tamaki, used with permission.

This also happens to be my favourite piece of artwork from This One Summer (Jillian and Mariko Tamaki). 

This One Summer is a collaboration between cousins Mario Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, it follows the story of Rose, someone who is starting to nosedive into the world of puberty. The story takes place across the summer of her annual trip with her family to Awago Beach, where her friend Windy is always there to meet her. While previous summers have always been amazing; this summer Rose has to confront family problems, as well as the pains of growing up. 

If you want something that captures the feelings of summer holidays; this is it. For someone like me who has now decided that they are ancient and is missing the carefree  leisure of summer holidays; this book is equally a delight and a weird kind of torture.

The whole read perfectly captures the dreamy wistfulness that captured my summer holidays – the same could be said for the content of the graphic novel. Not a lot happens but a lot happens at the same time. Growing up isn’t always something that is a dramatic adventure and this is the real genius of the graphic novel – it captures exactly that.

The artwork as well is beautiful- if I could frame the front cover I would. I just love when soft colours, especially lilacs and a watercolour feel is applied to artwork- and I love, love, love how that theme contains on through the graphic novel.


Image: © Jillian Tamaki, used with permission.

However, it wasn’t the stunning artwork that initially drew me to this graphic novel; it was that I was talking to the lovely shop assistant in my local comic book and they recommended the graphic novel based on my other choices. When talking about the graphic novel they also discussed how it was difficult to order in because it had been banned in the US. The reason it was banned I discovered was due to that it was deemed to contain ‘vulgar language’. And to be honest if a book is banned I automatically want to read it more. All I say about the ‘vulgar’ language is this: this is a book aimed at teens who are going to use and hear this language – that is just the reality of life.

And capturing the reality of life is what the graphic novel does best, especially the brutal reality of being introduced to the world of growing up and adulthood. However, along that pain is the joy of friendships. I have to say Rose and Windy’s friendship was probably my favourite thing throughout This One Summer because it has been a long time since I have read a friendship that didn’t feel stylised but just captured the messy reality of friendship. Sometimes, like Rose does to Windy, you mess up when talking with you friends. But most of the time being with a friend feels freeing –  something which Windy does beautifully.


Image: © Jillian Tamaki, used with permission.

I’m not going to lie, I see a lot of myself in Windy but I also see a lot more power in Windy than I felt I had at that age. She says what she thinks is right, even when it can be hard, especially when you friend is older (as is the case for Windy).

I hope by keeping this review short and sweet I capture the spirit of the graphic novel a bit – in that the graphic novel didn’t need to say a lot to be impactful. The artwork and storytelling fills in the gaps for you. The graphic novel’s strength is also its only weakness – not a lot happens but the characterisation is some of the best I’ve seen. We have a central character who the author is not afraid to show mess up in her journey to grow up as well as highlight how her infatuation with the teenage lothario of Awago Beach, Dunc sways and influences her judgment.

The adults too are not one-dimensional – we get to see Rose’s mum, Alice’s pain and understand her actions, as well as understand why Rose would react the way she does to her mum’s behaviour. Essentially This One Summer is a snapshot of the reality of growing up, but it’s genius is the way it paints that snapshot – bright, vivid and deeply immersive.

If you’re interested in This One Summer you can buy it on Amazon, I’d also recommend this review in The Comics Journal, which inspired some of the points in my review, particularly the line: ‘Immersion is This One Summer‘s strength’. However, it’s important to note that the review is not spoiler free.

April (April is the Cruellest Month)


The Comics I’m loving at the moment

So it’s been long time, no blog. I’m going to be honest getting used to all the changes in my life has really been making blogging feel difficult at the moment. Mainly, because I just can’t decide what I want to write about. Recently, instead of writing to de-stress I’ve being reading comics while snuggling up in my bed (and for the last day or two alternating that with watching Stranger Things Season 2). While a Season 2 Stranger Things review is definitely on the way because I’m obsessed (along with the Topshop colloboration- I need the Barb top in my life); I thought I’d do a little post about the comics I’ve being loving at the moment.

Especially as reconnecting with comics have meant that I’ve being going down memory lane a lot and reflecting back to when I was a teenager, and read comics the most. I read a few different things as a teenager, but I’ll be honest I never probably knew where to start. Everyone I knew who liked comics was REALLY into comics, and I always felt nervous starting from scratch. It didn’t help that back then seeing a girl in a comic book shop was still a commodity, especially where I lived (I can’t speak for other places).

This experience actually has kind of inspired me to start writing, and not a blog post but maybe, hopefully a novel (don’t hold me to this). It will be loosely based on things I’ve experienced but far away from me enough that it won’t feel too personal to share (at least that’s what I’m going for).

Enough about that though let’s get into the comics I’ve been loving at the moment. There’s not a lot (only 2) because I’m trying not to go to ‘ham’- honestly due to money. And I want to slowly figure out what I like and don’t like. Although I will always love Superheros; I wanted to explore something different, and at the minute I really just wanted to read stories with female protagonists (whether they’re good or bad)- maybe all the childhood nostalgia where I only had Buffy to cling to is getting to me a bit too much!


Image Comics

Story: Bryan Lee O’Malley

Artwork: Leslie Hung 

Snotgirl Comic

This was actually the first of the two series’ I mention that I picked up. I picked it up first of all because I loved the title. And secondly because I love the artwork so much.

For those not familiar with this series, Snotgirl looks at the Youtube/ fashion/ beauty blogger world, which I’ve been really into since I finally discovered it and basically just breaks it apart. But also doesn’t dismiss it completely. It’s more about what it’s like behind the photographs, behind the persona. And what’s it like when you don’t know the difference anymore.

Or as better explained by the official synopsis:

“Lottie Person is a glamorous fashion blogger living her best life—at least that’s what she wants you to think. The truth is, her friends are terrible people, her boyfriend traded her up for someone younger, her allergies are out of control, and she may or may not have killed somebody!”

Since I’ve been really struggling to be active online at the moment because I’d rather connect in the real world (and because I just really want to be in the countryside for some reason at the moment) this has been a thought provoking but still fun read for me.

The first volume for Snotgirl is already out and is £8.99 at both Waterstones and Amazon (it’s cheaper at Forbidden Planet however).

I’d also recommend you check out Seconds by the same author, which is closer to Scott Pilgrim (and has an amazing reference thrown in there) than Snotgirl, but the main character is a lot more relatable to me, just because I’m not glamorous (ha, ha) and they have red hair. It will though hit you right in the heart if you’re going through growing up stress at the minute however.

Paper Girls 

Image Comics 

Story: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Cliff Chiang

Paper Girls 1

PaperGirls 2

So think about Stranger Things, then imagine the squad is all girls, and add in more of a futuristic, space travel inspired adventure and you have Paper Girls. Although this series reminds me once again that my childhood was totally not inspiring in comparison to most people’s; I truly recommend it. The sunset toned, bright but muted, 80s inspired retro artwork is to die for and I wish I could just see my whole life like it. It also has a lot of moments about growing up and expectations, which is hitting a bit too close to home for me at the moment.

The synopsis as usual explains it better than me:

“In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.”

The good things about this series as well is that there are three volumes to get through that have already published before you catch up with the current run, so you don’t have to worry about catching up too soon, and anxiously waiting for each issue (or if you’re like me that won’t matter because you read too fast anyway- the only thing stopping me if that I can’t afford to buy volume 3 at the moment).

The first volume is £8.99 at Waterstones (and the independent comic book shop Chaos City Comics that I bought it from- the staff are super friendly and this way I keep independents alive and get good recommendations). The second and third volume are £11.99.

You can buy the volumes cheaper on Amazon as well. I also just discovered that you can buy Book 1 (Issues 1-10) in a special cover edition, which I now want because I’m in love with the artwork (also available for preorder on Amazon). For this who don’t know volumes are usually one run of the comics, which is usually 5-6 issues (for Paper Girls its 5 issues), so volume 1 and 2, which I already own are issues 1-5, and 6-10 respectively, and volume 3, which I need would be issues 11-15.

At the moment issues 16, 17 and 18 have also been released in comic form. Book 1, which I just mentioned contains issues I already have but still want because I get too obsessive about things.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the perfect read for Halloween if you’re like me and want to spend Halloween in a Stranger Things (except you know I’ve already binged watched my way through Season 2) and Paper Girls Halloween 80s bubble.


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