School’s begun! What a whirlwind few weeks. I thought about all the books I’ve read this summer and finally decided to sit down and post some reviews. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what exactly I’ve read! But I do know some for sure and settled on those to write a Summer Wrap-Up post with some mini-reviews 🙂
My first pick is one I’ve been waiting to read for months now, and it finally came in through the Inter-Library Loan system (thanks to those commenters who encouraged me to keep trying with ILL!):
I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister
by Amelie Sarn
I wasn’t expecting this book to be so short, and I definitely didn’t expect it to pack such a punch. Told mostly in flashbacks, it’s the story of a sister’s grief. Quiet, reserved, deferential Sohane is a year older than her sister Djelila who lives for sports, friends, and fun. As the girls become older, Sohane decides to become more conservative and chooses to wear a hijab to school, in direct opposition to France’s mandate that no religious symbols are to be worn in school. She can’t understand why her sister chooses to wear form fitted clothes and to flirt with boys but also bristles against the band of local Muslim boys who are a self-appointed morality police. The group of boys begins harassing Djelila, and Sohane observes it as it grows worse, but secretly believes that maybe Djelila deserves it. The culmination of the story is gut-wrenching, made more poignant by the fact it’s based on a true event that occurred in France in the early 2000’s against a Muslim girl.
Author Amelie Sarn is not Muslim but convincingly captures the ache and grief of loss and the hotbed of violence against women who do not conform to either society or a subcultural group in today’s shifting world.
This One Summer
by Mariko Tamaki (author) and Jillian Tamaki (illustrator)
I found this graphic novel at the public library whilst browsing and hoping our library had Persepolis. Written and illustrated by a partnership of cousins, it chronicles one summer at the shore in the lives of Rose and Windy. Rose’s family has summered at Awago Beach since she can remember, and Windy is her best friend she can’t wait to see each summer. Both girls are only children–Rose’s parents never had more kids, and Windy was adopted. Their friendship is fun, goofy, and deep, and both girls look forward to the summer to see each other again.
But this summer is different from before. Rose, whose eyes we see through, is having difficulty coping with how much her parents have begun arguing, and things are further strained as her parents’ fighting begins to affect their other relationships at Awago Beach. Rose continues to rely on her friendship with Windy to get her through each day, but that begins proving difficult in a different way. Windy is younger than Rose, so now that Rose is noticing the boys who live by the beach and finding herself drawn into the world of slut-shaming, Windy’s young innocence and optimism begins to grate on her.
This beautiful crafted graphic novel uses a two-toned indigo to capture themes of innocence lost, the power of female friendship, forgiveness, and coming-of-age. It was splendidly done, and I hope to read other graphic novels by the Tamakis.
Just So Happens
by Fumio Obata
Tamiko loves her life in London. She has her dream job, a great boyfriend, and fits in there. But one day she receives a phone call that her father has passed away unexpectedly, and she finds herself reluctantly returning to Japan to help with the services. While there, she is forced to confront what she’d pushed aside and discovers the depth of her connection to her family and country.
The gorgeous water color illustrations complement the dream-like state that Tamiko finds herself wandering through in the wake of her father’s death. Interestingly, it is her mother’s appearance toward the end that begins to ground her back in the world. The choices that Tamiko then faces as a woman, a daughter, and an artist are the perfect wrap-up to this subtle storytelling.
It was good reading more graphic novels this summer. I used to be such a snob about them. But through this project and challenges like Book Riot’s Read Harder 2016, I’ve discovered how profound they can be :).
Now we welcome fall quite soon. Another summer nearly past. What are you looking forward to reading as the days grow shorter and the air begins to chill?