Hope Larson's "All Summer Long," lively YA graphic novel about tween friendships, rock and roll, and being yourself
Hope Larson's All Summer Long is an incredibly charming, subtly complex story about friendship and coming of age, the story of Bina and her lifelong friend Austin, who, as far back as they can remember have spent every summer playing a game where they award themselves "Fun Points" for petting cats, finding change on the sidewalk, going swimming, and otherwise making the most of a long, wonderful summer. Until now.
Now they're getting ready for 8th Grade and Austin is going off to soccer camp for a month, and he's pronounced the pair of them too old for Fun Points anyway, leaving Bina alone and rootless in her house while her best friend is off reinventing himself as a teen -- who doesn't answer texts from his (former?) best friend.
Bina, meanwhile, is also figuring out who she is, striking up an unlikely friendship with Austin's cool and distant older sister (who has heretofore cordially loathed her brother and his little friends), semi-disastrously experimenting with babysitting, and, above all else, listening to music and playing her guitar.
Larson is a brilliant storyteller; from her bestselling comics adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time to her exciting Four Points YA adventure series, Larson has proved that she can marry words and images to delve into the complex inner lives of her characters in a way that is nothing short of spellbinding.
Bina's emotional rollercoaster of a summer is a deceptively breezy read that smuggles in a complex story of identity, boy-girl friendships, self-respect, coolness, and compassion. It's a Judy Blume-grade coming-of-age story where no one is a villain, everyone makes mistakes, and the ending is so satisfying that it makes you want to jump up and salute when it's over.
All Summer Long [Hope Larson/FSG]
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