hello friends!

today i am going to review two graphic novels i read a few months ago and greatly enjoyed. they are really different from each other, but while reading i still felt like they kind of went together. i just couldn’t put my finger on why, i didn’t really have a word for this kind of read. that was until fadwa wrote her amazing post A love letter to Quiet YA a while back. i had never heard that term before, but i definitely share fadwa’s feelings about the genre (can it be called a genre? is that what it is?). if you haven’t read the post, i’d highly recommend that you head over and do that.

these two graphic novels are both published by :01 First Second, which is one of my favourite graphic novel publishers (other absolute favourites of mine published by them include the prince and the dressmaker, the adventure zone, and check, please). as i said, i’d categorise both of them as quiet ya graphic novels. both have really clean and simple art, deal with growing up, and are a bit sad but also really hopeful at the same time.

THIS ONE SUMMER by jillian and mariko tamaki

title: this one summer
writer: mariko tamaki
artist: jillian tamaki
genre: coming of age, contemporary
target audience: young adult
content warnings: alcohol, smoking, parental fighting, near death by drowning
my rating: highly recommended

this one summer follows rose, a pre-teen girl. she and her parents have a summer house in a small beach town called awago, which they visit every year. the book starts with them in the car on their way there, and ends at the end of the summer as they leave and go back home. rose has a friend in awago, windy, who she hangs out with when she’s there.

this book tells the story of a young girl who is just starting to pay more attention to the world around her, and feeling like she is getting too old to just be a kid. rose is walking the line between being too young to be taken really seriously by the adults and older teens around her, but still being old enough to be let into their world and getting to see their flaws. her parents are going through a rough time and are fighting a lot. her frustration and moodiness is really well conveyed through the art, and she reads like a very real kid. she gets angry with windy, who is a year younger, because she deems her too childish this summer. she gets a crush on the messy sixteen year old boy who works in the dvd rental shop, and proceeds to label his girlfriend a slut because of jealousy.

the feeling of everything being so very important and the end of the world, when really everyone has moved on to the next thing a week later, that you have when you’re young, is very present throughout the whole book. it gives an almost nostalgic feeling. all of these things that rose goes through and feels over the span of the summer are really important to her, and the tamaki’s never belittle her by making her problems look small just because she is young.

probably my favourite part was her friendship with windy. rose and windy are really different from each other, and windy serves as a really needed counterpoint to rose. rose isn’t always the nicest person, and is often judgemental or selfish, but windy is always there to balance it out. she is happy and bubbly, she calls rose out when she’s being shitty, and through it all she is there and reminds rose that it is still okay to play and be silly and be a kid.

SPINNING by tillie walden

title: spinning
writer/artist: tillie walden
genre: coming of age, memoir
target audience: young adult
content warnings: bullying, homophobia, sexual assault
my rating: highly recommended

spinning is a graphic memoir of how tillie walden grew up, left the hobby that had dominated most of her teenage life, and eventually came out as a lesbian. it is a deeply personal story of her struggles as she starts questioning her place in the very strict world of competitive figure and synchronized skating, and chronicles her experiences growing up from pre- to late teens.

walden was a competitive figure and synchronized skater for most of her forming years. through this memoir we get to see how she gets up before the sun rises to have time for practice before school, goes straight back to the rink after school, and spends all her free days practicing even more or skating in competitions.

this is not a light and fluffy read, instead it can be quite heavy at times. even when constantly surrounded by her fellow teammates, kids from school, family, and coaches, walden has this air of loneliness around her throughout the whole book. this stems from not only her growing resentment of the sport that occupies all her life, but also from being a closeted and alienated gay girl. even when she has happy moments, friends she likes, a girlfriend, the beautiful two-colour art still conveys that melancholy feeling.

spinning is still very hopeful, though. walden goes through a lot of tough times – bullying in school, not feeling like she fits in, losing her love for skating, getting rejected after coming out – but the ending tells us that things will be okay. growing up is hard, but eventually things will work out.

i adored both of these graphic novels. neither of them are full of action, but you get so much out of them anyway. they are also not the happiest of reads, so don’t choose them when you’re in the mood for a pick-me-up. what they are is beautiful, relatable, and unapologetically about teenage girls. i’d highly recommend you pick them up.

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6 reaktioner till “mini reviews: two quiet graphic novels from :01 First Second

  1. I have never heard of these two graphic novels before, but they sound absolutely beautiful. I am already loving them from the cover art. But I think that the themes they both handle, the difficulties of growing up and the weird in between stage before being completely an adult but not entirely a teen, is one we should have more books on. Great reviews 🙂 Will have to check these out on Goodreads now!

    Olivia-S @ Olivia’s Catastrophe



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