Summer adventures begin when Bina accidentally locks herself out of her house in Larson’s newest middle-grade graphic novel.
The summer before eighth grade is a season of self-discovery for many 13-year-olds, including Bina, when her best friend heads off to soccer camp and leaves her alone to navigate a SoCal summer. Without athletic Austin around to steer the ship, Bina must pursue her own passions, such as discovering new bands and rocking out on her electric guitar. Unexpected friendships bloom, and new members are welcomed into her family. Though her sphere grows over the summer, friendship with Austin is strained when he returns, and Bina must learn to embrace the proverb to make new friends but keep the old. As her mother wisely observes, “you’re more you every day,” and by the end of summer Bina is more comfortable in her own skin and ready to rock eighth grade. Larson’s panels are superb at revealing emotional conflict, subtext, and humor within the deceptively simple third-person limited plot, allowing characters to grow and develop emotionally over only a few spreads. She also does a laudable job of depicting a diverse community for Bina to call home. Though Bina’s ethnicity is never overtly identified, her racial ambiguity lends greater universality to her story. (In the two-toned apricot, black, and white panels, Bina and her mother have the same black hair and gold skin, while her dad is white, as is Austin.)
A coming-of-age story as tender and sweet as a summer evening breeze. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)