Graphic Novel

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 […]

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Book 16 of 52: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

As I plan this summer’s cross country road trip, I’m figuring out with National Park Service units (there are more than 400!) I want to see along the way. I read Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (and her husband James D. Houston) as Book 22 of last year, which puts the Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California on the list.

Actor and activist George Takei may be the most public face of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. They Called Us Enemy is the graphic novel version of his story. And while he was sent to different sites than Manzanar, these two books feel like companion reading.

Where Houston’s perspective is more of a child experiencing what she did, this graphic novel is from the perspective of an adult looking back at what happened, and the reverberations of that across his whole life, using a discussion Takei had with Kermit Roosevelt III at Hyde Park in 2017 as the starting point (fun fact: one of the first authors I ever profiled was Kermit, when he published his first book, In The Shadow of the Law).

I used “incarcerated” instead of “interned” […]

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