Review of My Last Summer with Cass

My Last Summer with Cass
by Mark Crilley; illus. by the author
High School    Little, Brown    256 pp.    g
3/21    978-0-7595-5546-4    $24.99
Paper ed.  978-0-7595-5545-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-70547-9    $9.99

In this graphic novel, Megan and Cass’s families have always summered together at a cottage in Topinabee, Michigan, where the girls spend their time collaborating on art projects, to their parents’ occasional consternation (those are rental cottage walls they’re drawing on). When they are thirteen, Cass’s parents divorce, and the joint family vacations and the girls’ artistic partnership cease. Four years later, Megan has convinced her parents to let her stay with Cass and her mom in Brooklyn for a few weeks. In NYC, surrounded by Cass’s artist friends and mentors, Megan steps out of her comfort zone and begins to pursue art on her own terms, without her father’s rules and expectations for the future. Crilley’s art style would feel at home in a Disney animated film: Megan and Cass have the large eyes and soft, rounded edges of an Elsa or a Rapunzel, and Crilley renders their facial expressions with exaggeratedly effective detail. While the character tropes are plentiful — the small-town girl with a big dream and strict parents; the experienced teen wunderkind; an eccentric girl gang of artists; the wealthy lady patron — there are idiosyncrasies and heart aplenty, and many teens will appreciate the tidy ending, which heralds a new beginning for both Megan and Cass’s friendship and their respective art careers. An enjoyable coming-of-artistic-age tale for graphic novel enthusiasts.

From the May/June 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Niki Marion

Niki Marion is the children’s outreach manager at Third Place Books in Seattle. She holds a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons University.

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