The intangibility of being young, the insecurities, the wonderment and the everlasting feeling of hope. It all springs eternal in the works of Canadian cousins Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, leading them towards grabbing the Best Original Graphic Novel in the BF Awards 2014 with This One Summer.
The Tamaki cousins first received many laurels for their collaboration on Skim, a meditation on the troubles of youth set in a Catholic high school for girls in Toronto. This One Summer, published by First Second, is once more categorized as a Young Adult graphic novel, but while the foot certainly fits the shoe, it also diminishes its far-reaching contemplations upon finishing the story.
This One Summer is a coming-of-age tale about two young girls, Rose and Windy, whose families vacation every summer in the same beach town. Now the girls are at an age where they’re too old to hang out with their parents, but too young to go out and fit in with the local teenagers. They begin to realize that both the adults and the teenagers are dealing with drama that is just beyond the girls’ faculties to understand.
What sets Jillian and Mariko Tamaki so apart from other creators is their ability to pinpoint the conflicts of emotions that encapsulate that particular phase in anyone’s life where you float between worlds — the shimmering of the adult world in front of you and the flickering of a carefree life behind you.
All of this is perfectly strengthened by touching, emotional line work. As delicately as Mariko Tamaki puts words and story on paper, Jillian puts down the lines. She illustrates her characters with a tender line that is both spontaneous and intimate while rendering the book’s nature scenes with a rough dry brush, intensifying the encroachment and effect of the place upon all. The grandiosity of the nature scenes lends a universal balance to all the inner turmoil of the characters. There’s a graceful quality in Jillian’s swerving brush work, perfectly pinpointing the writer’s beats and emotional impact. Her characters frolic across the paper while her nature shots are nothing sort of breathtaking.
So, if you haven’t, treat yourself to This One Summer by the Tamaki cousins and be prepared for a trip infused with nostalgia, sugary hyperfits and tender growth.