This One Summer, or The Age Question


Reviewed for this blog by Andrea, Windsor Library

What is it about the summer that makes kids grow up? I can’t help but think about We Were Liars, The Disenchantments, and countless others that span the course of this season. There is the (maybe) obvious answer that because a kid’s life revolves so much around the school calendar, the summer is time to reflect and react. They have the idle time to let ideas and thoughts and relationships marinate before (and after) the pressure cooker that is one’s school year. Another reason, however, could have more to do with the next season. Every year right around this time I always think of The Great Gatsby: “Everything starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Is it the impending feeling of autumn that propels these characters to make changes and/or be changed? And, perhaps more importantly for this discussion, does it make for a more memorable, more praise-worthy read?

This One Summer has lots of love behind it and rightly so. Rose spends (you guessed it) one summer narrating her adventures of leisurely activity, horror movies, friendship, parental stress and more on a lake vacation.

The design and illustrations are incredible. What other color would be better matched for the laid-back, cool weather of a lake vacation than purple? The girls’ movements are spot on in the way they are unsure around older characters, confident with each other. After finishing, however, I couldn’t shake the “nope” feeling I got when considering it as a contender. And then I figured out why. Rose’s voice is unmistakably one of preadolescence. She has so many unspoken, confusing, angry, compassionate, provoking thoughts – about Windy, her mom, the convenience store guy. It’s heartbreaking and lovable. But it’s young, dare I say too young to be named a Printz. At first it was more of a gut feeling, but I decided to put this inkling to the test. How old were the main characters in the Printz books? I broke it down: pre-2007, and after. At the half-life of the award, it seemed that the book characters got older, but again, just a feeling. And then it wasn’t:

Online Graphing

Online Graphing

The award seems to lend itself to older adolescence. Why is that? Meatier stories? More angst? More awareness of the large world to which they belong? All these things are apparent in stories with younger characters. I’m not sure but it seems that numbers don’t lie. I’d say if anything it might be an honor book, but I’ll wait to see how others stack up.

*13 books were not included in this breakdown. They were either the nonfiction picks, short story collections, or books in which, for the life of me, I could not find a character age. And it goes without saying that some of this might be accidentally wrong because, well, I’m a human being. 

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3 thoughts on “This One Summer, or The Age Question

  1. Sara Ray

    LOVED this book!! Couldn’t wait to read it as it is my favorite “style” of graphic novel. I am impressed that it got 6 reviews (the most) and happy to book-talk it to any of my graphic fans!

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  2. andreaingala Post author

    @Sara: I loved it, too! I’m just not sure it has the legs to take it all the way for the Printz. I can’t help but compare it to American Born Chinese, the only other GN to be recognized and the story and themes, in my humble opinion, just don’t stack up. As beautiful as it is, it’s a very intimate, personal story. When I think of Midwinterblood, Monster, How I live Now – these stories all have things to grab on to besides the plot element (of any good teen book) of Growing Up, which is TOS’s main gripe. I don’t know. We’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.

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  3. Pingback: Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash | CT Mock Printz Book Discussion

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