This One Summer

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
This One Summer Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Well-observed graphic novel charts transition to adolesence.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rose's mother drinks wine with a friend. The older teens hold a party where they smoke and drink beer.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bymomof2amazinggirls July 20, 2015

If your tween is 'advanced' and you want to discuss mature themes over a book, this is a good option

My tween was asking a lot about puberty and sex -- what is it, etc. I wanted a narrative to discuss issues around sex with her. This book is not explicit in t... Continue reading
Adult Written byjcarlyle February 4, 2015

Not appropriate for a Caldecott Honor Book

Really no stars based on content. Please read the excerpts before purchasing this based on the Caldecott Honor. Very surprised that this is receiving such posit... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byWildstarlion March 1, 2020

Great book with beautiful illustrations that really makes you think

It's a really beautiful book, and the writing is amazing. The whole story line is really intriguing, and its a very heartfelt story. Earlier I was scrollin... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLilypad1604 April 27, 2020

Great but includes sensitive topics

This One summer is about a girl who went on vacation to the same holiday resort since she was little and has a slightly younger friend. It describes how the two... Continue reading

What's the story?

Rose and Windy look forward all year to their summer family vacations at Awago Beach. But this year is different for the best friends, as Rose's mother is sad and withdrawn, and she and Rose's dad fight often. Rose develops a crush on "Dud," the older boy who works behind the counter at the local convenience store, and Windy is fascinated by the problems Dud is having with his girlfriend. The year-and-a-half age gap between Rose and Windy feels wider than it used to. When near-tragedy strikes, the girls get a glimpse of what lies beyond childhood.

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how comics and graphic novels tell stories differently from other media. What kinds of effects are available through the combination of words and pictures that aren't available from either method alone?

  • How do friendships change over time? Why do some people remain friends forever, while others drift apart?

  • How do you feel about "slut-shaming"? What does it mean when a young woman is called a slut?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and coming-of-age tales

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