Book 40 of 52: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

It’s the point of the summer where I’m sick of the heat, but already starting to feel nostalgic about it almost being over. I will curse how much I sweat when walking my dog, but also lament that the season at the swim club I joined is coming to an end.

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki was the perfect book to read in this mood. It’s a graphic novel about Rose, and her annual family vacation to Awago. She and her summer friend (who also goes to the same place every year) are teenagers right at the age that they are both trying on different versions of themselves, and hyper tuned into what is going on around them.

I spent most of my summers in a campground outside of Avalon, N.J. and while this book is meant for teens, I’m glad I picked it up. I felt a lot of the same things the characters here do. They feel uncomfortable when grown men gawk at them. They try out horror movies to see how bad they can really be. At one point, Rose tries out gossiping about someone else in town by calling her a slut. I know I did something similar at about that age, and had the same gross reaction at myself for doing so.

Rose’s parents are also fighting, which can be extra awful when you’re far from home, and living in a confined space. Again: I know. My family’s last few years in the campground were also tense because my parents were not getting along. They split up the summer I turned 17. Whenever someone says they’re staying together for the sake of the kids, or they want to hide something for the sake of the kids, don’t. We know. We always do.

Since this book includes things like gay people, conversations that sex is a thing that exists, and teenagers with feelings, of course it’s been a target. It was the most challenged book in 2016, according to the American Library Association. Because heaven forbid teenagers read something that might related to their lived experience vs. whatever fake world book banners pretend their can force their kids into believing exists.

I could go on a very long rant about this, but since I am trying to soak in as much pool time as possible given my end of summer lament, I’ll stop. But most of you, if you come to this site and keep reading it, know exactly how I feel.

Nail polish: Bon Voyage to Reality! by OPI

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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