Quick Short Thoughts - This One Summer and French Milk

Thursday, April 9, 2015


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer Every summer, Rose and her parents stay at a lake house in Awago Beach. Once there, Rose and her friend, Windy, who also visits there with her mother and grandmother, explore the Beach and spend a good amount of time swimming, shopping, or watching movies. Except this time, things aren't going to be quite as fun as Rose wants it to be. Her parents have been fighting, her mother has not been getting along with some company, and Rose has been a little too interested in one guy at the only store at the beach.

I had mixed reactions to This One Summer. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the story. Rose is at that age when she is extra sensitive to triggers around her. When a girl comes to the store crying about something, she and Windy go to great lengths to find out what the deal was. When her mother starts behaving strangely, she worries that she could be part of the problem. And Windy being an exuberant and lively character, Rose struggles to share anything with her because the two girls truly are opposites. There is a lot of teenage angst in this book!

While the story itself was engaging, I wasn't much a fan of how it was executed. There were occasional leaps in the story that I found disconcerting - as if a panel or two was missing in between. Unlike most other readers of this book, I wasn't a fan of the artwork. I think I didn't like the overwhelming blue of the illustrations - they worked great for drawings set at night, but for others, they appeared somewhat whitewashed. I'm probably in the minority though - many others have loved this book, so you may enjoy it too, if you haven't yet read it.



French Milk by Lucy Knisley

French Milk
French Milk is an account of the trip that Lucy made to Paris with her mother during January of 2007. There they rented a small apartment which smelled of something nasty and had strange and imposing decor in most rooms.

Just like Relish, French Milk is not a book with any kind of plot. With their minimal knowledge of the French language, this mother-daughter duo headed to Paris to live among the locals and experience the food and delights of this wonderful city. Lucy's father also visits them for a few days to celebrate Lucy's birthday and enjoy some of the French cuisine.

What I found most interesting about this book was that it felt like a genuine unedited journal. There were instances where she corrected what she mentioned a few pages ago. There were also random squiggles and scribbles to give it an informal feel.

There were also quite a few photographs included in the book, which I loved! It's always nice to see real people in books.

Overall though, I was a little disappointed by this book. It is as charming as Relish - you can see the same narration and illustration style but the idea of the book is itself what felt flat to me. French Milk is more a travelogue with no real plot or direction than a book that gave you any a-ha moments. It will probably appeal a lot to those who have been to France or live there, or someone about to visit this country, but if you're looking for some takeaways (other than details about the French experience), this book may not work too well.

18 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I didn't know about This One Summer. I usually really like Prinz books.

Alex (Sleepless Reader) said...

When i went into my NY comics shopping spree I was *this close* to buying This One Summer because of all the rave reviews. Maybe the overwhelming blue represents the summer sky & sea?

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

French Milk was my least favorite of Knisley's books but I still loved it. The only thing that confused me was where she got that delicious milk - we certainly didn't encounter it when we lived in France.

Ti Reed said...

Two somewhat disappointing books. That stinks. They look good but I think I mentioned it once before, I can't wrap my brain around graphic novels. Haven't found the right one yet.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I bought This One Summer When I found it at Half Price Books, but I haven't read it yet. I was thinking about tossing it on my Readathon pile, but the length is a little intimidating.

Belle Wong said...

I liked This One Summer but I enjoyed the authors' previous book, Skim, so much more. French Milk was lovely for the food descriptions but I remember her as being just a little too whiny. I've enjoyed her later books so much more.

Athira / Aths said...

You may enjoy it. It's a nice story - maybe reading too many graphic novels has made me overly picky.

Athira / Aths said...

I think that was kind of the idea. I also thought it interesting that they managed to make a whole book in one color. I like more colors in my graphic books, if there are colors at all. Colors, to me, can be used to show emotions, timelines, locations, etc. Here, by just using one color, I didn't quite get any connection from it.

Athira / Aths said...

Ah, that's interesting! Normally I would have thought food in France is delicious, no matter what it is. They do make the best baked goods and desserts after all. So I wonder how she loved the milk but you weren't able to find milk that good.

Athira / Aths said...

(Plugging in some shamless graphic book promotion) Then you should certainly start with Maus or Persepolis! Persepolis is the first graphic book I read at a time when I wasn't blogging and had no idea that graphic books were a thing even. But once I finished reading this book, I badly wanted to read more like that. Obviously, I didn't find anything until many many years later after I started blogging. So that may be the perfect start for you!

Athira / Aths said...

It is certainly long. I must have read it in 2-3 sittings. But it reads fast so you may be able to get through it pretty soon.

Athira / Aths said...

I'm glad to read that you liked Skim more. I have been wondering if I should give that a try, but I wasn't sure I will like it more. It sounds like it is the better of the two, so I may enjoy it better.

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

We lived there in the early 90s and she went much later - I wonder if that's why.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I looooved This One Summer. Skim was good, but I thought This One Summer was terrific. I hope the Tamakis do more books together -- I love how thoughtful they are about what it's like to be that age.

Ti Reed said...

GREAT suggestions. Thank you.

iliana said...

I loved French Milk but I think you mentioned one thing which is exactly the reason why I loved it, it does feel like a real journal. With a mix of photos, drawing and writing. My travel journals tend to be a mix of things so I think that's why I liked this. Really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on these!

Athira / Aths said...

I agree - the story was so beautiful, it actually reminded me of Blankets. I will be reading Skim sometime soon - I have heard a lot about it.

Athira / Aths said...

See, that's what I love about books like these. Different people experience it differently. I can totally see why you love this book - if I journaled a bit more often, I probably would like it more too.