When summer finally arrives in Canada, people walk around cities and towns in a daze. It’s as if we’ve all woken up on another planet and are trying to remember long-forgotten survival skills. Once the shock wears off, people flood onto patios and into parks to pay homage to the sun and to melt the winter’s chill from our bones.
Some very lucky families are able to escape smoggy cities and towns by going up to summer cottages by lakes and rivers. Weekends (or weeks) are spent swimming in the fresh water, basking in the sun rays, making bonfires, and playing Scrabble whenever it rains.
Our twenty-eighth reader selected the graphic novel This One Summer (2014) by Canadian authors and illustrators Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. Using beautiful illustrations and natural dialogue, the Tamakis depict a preteen’s negotiations between childhood and adolescence during a summer trip to the cottage with her parents. The protagonist’s struggle with identity is paired with spy-like observation of local teenagers, and the discomfort of witnessing dysfunction in her parents’ relationship.
The appeal of this text to our reader was its skillful representation of that awkward period between childhood and adolescence, and the preteen struggle with identity and belonging. We spoke poolside on an exceptionally hot day in July about the novel’s artwork, graphic novels in general, the Tamakis’ adept depiction of silence as well as speech, and our own memories of preteen-dom.
Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy