All Summer Long
Written by Hope Larson
Austin and Bina have been inseparable friends since they were in diapers. The summer going into the eighth grade everything changes. Austin is headed for soccer camp and Bina has no idea how she is going to fill those, quite suddenly, boring days of summer. This is a coming of age type journey of self-discovery and Bina stretches out of her comfort zone to new experiences and new friendships. She learns to deal with her changing relationship with Austin now that they are growing up and she finds a world that is just a little bit bigger than she had been expecting.
Somehow or another I have been inundated with graphic novels this summer. My son, a budding graphic artist, of course, insists that they are as legitimate literature as any book could be. After this book and the others that have found their way to me, I have to agree. While I might have avoided All Summer Long, given its format, I actually found it quite easy to read and the story is perfect for middle school teens. The art perfectly captures the feeling of a 13-year-old’s summer of change
This One Summer
Written by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose’s family regularly vacations at Awago Beach during the summer. It is a place of happy memories, a home away from home made all the more special by the addition of her summer bestie Windy. This summer though things are not as they have been. Rose’s parents are fighting, Rose is struggling with some issues of her own, and she and Windy unwittingly get pulled into the drama of Awago residents.
The first thing a reader notices about this book is its stunning monochrome art. Not quite black and white, not quite the color blue. It sets the tone for the whole story. It is fitting for the flashbacks to happier times and fitting for angst that overshadows this particular beach vacation. Twelve-year-old Rose is on the cusp of adolescence. That murky time between just being a child that is simply a part of all that is going on around her and noticing that the world is not quite as cohesive as she had once believed. She is trying to see where she fits. Fits in the changing dynamic of her family, fits in a world where suddenly boys are interesting and complicated, fits in a world where everything is constantly changing. The graphics brilliantly reflect the complexity of Rose’s world and keeps the pace of the story even in the absence of words.
This book is written about 10- and 12-year-olds, but with the adult language and situations, I would suggest that it is geared more toward high school age than middle grade. It is probably a story that will resonate with most teens in some way.