A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This One Summer presents a very realistic picture of how it feels to be on the cusp between childhood and adolescence, fascinated by older teens but not sure how to engage with them. The graphic novel presents opportunities to talk about such topics as teen sex, dealing with arguing parents, and maintaining friendships.
This One Summer emphasizes the importance of family and friendship. Rose and Windy's families face various challenges, but they're able to find reasons to be hopeful by the end of the book.
Positive Role Models
In This One Summer, Rose and Windy are interested in pushing boundaries: watching R-rated horror movies, learning hip-hop dance moves, and trying to figure out the troubled romance between the boy behind the counter at the convenience store and his girlfriend. But they're basically good kids, struggling to understand the world around them and treat others with compassion. The strength of their friendship shines through, even though it may change in the future.
Violence & Scariness
The girls watch violent horror movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Jaws. Snatches of dialogue and sound effects are presented, but no actual scenes are pictured. An older teen tries to drown herself, but she's rescued.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An older teen becomes pregnant, and the young father and his friends treat her cruelly. Rose and Windy refer to the pregnant girl as a "slut." Mention is made of "blow jobs," though the term is not explained. Rose overhears her mother's conversation about her miscarriage.
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Dialogue in This One Summer contains about a dozen instances each of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." "Boobs," "prick," "douche bag," and "butt" are used a few times each.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Rose's mother drinks wine with a friend. The older teens hold a party where they smoke and drink beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 2015 Caldecott Honor and Michael L. Printz Honor book This One Summer is a frank and engaging exploration of how friendships and family connections can change over the course of one season. This graphic novel expertly captures what it feels like to be on the cusp between childhood and adolescence. An unwanted teenage pregnancy is an integral part of the story, as do a miscarriage and a suicide attempt. Dialogue in This One Summer contains about a dozen instances each of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." "Boobs," "prick," "douche bag," "slut," and "butt" are employed a few times each. Adults are shown drinking wine, and older teens drink and smoke at an outdoor party.
Is It Any Good?
THIS ONE SUMMER perfectly captures the awkward transition from childhood to adolescence. Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Jillian Tamaki (who are cousins) are perfectly attuned to each other, with the expressive blue-washed artwork conveying both the unfocused energy of the protagonists and the subtlety of their story. The narrative is not action-packed, but the creators achieve powerful effects with economy and grace. It's also gratifying to find a graphic novel that speaks directly and realistically to the lives and dreams of girls in their early teens.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.