“I never said I didn’t want to grow up.”
What is it with lazy Summer family holidays that lends itself to a meditative state of assessment of one’s life? It’s a rest point in the year that, if you’re fortunate enough, has recurred through life from childhood. In teenage years, bodily and hormonal changes can make each holiday seem different from the last and it’s the situation that the protagonist of Summer Spirit (Nobrow) finds herself in. Louise spends every summer at her grandmother’s house on the coast with her sister and cousins, all of which are older than her. This year the age gap between her and the other girls feels all the more pronounced and she feels ostracised from their older teen preoccupations. Then she discovers the presence of a ghost in the house.
Writer/artist Elizabeth Holleville has created a beautifully meandering tale, filling it with moments of the mundane, which allows life to breath and for the story to come from character. Scenes, and sometimes just panels of teenage melodrama mix with concerns about the grandmothers mental health and moments of inconsequential detail so that nothing feels contrived to serve the purpose of theme or plot.
Strangely for such a grounded story, the appearance of the ghost does not feel jarring and that’s partly due to the soft flowing line-work which has a dreamy feel to it. It also benefits from a soft and charming colour palette to the book, filled with purple and violet, peach and pale green. Overall, a deceptively simple, charming story.