Graphic Novel Review: My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley

My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley. Little, Brown, and Company, 2021. 9780759555464.

Megan and Cass got to know each other during the summers when their families vacationed in Topinabee, Michigan. As kids they were inseparable. And, in a key incident, they once created a work of art together on a cabin’s wall. The place’s owner, a former kindergarten teacher, was more impressed than irritated, and made the girls’ parents to promise to enroll both of them in art classes. They continue to collaborate on art over the years even as Cass’s family falls apart.

Most of the book takes place the summer before Megan’s senior year of high school, when she goes to New York for a few weeks to stay with Cass and her mom in Brooklyn. The neighborhood is a world apart from where Megan lives in Illinois, and she has a bread from her father talking down to her about her artistic ambitions. (He wants Megan to take over the family hardware store, and thinks art is something she can do in her spare time.) Megan has a great time full of art and deep conversations, she and Cass collaborate some more, and then they’re even going to put a piece they worked on together in a show. But when it becomes clear Megan’s parents might see it in the gallery, Megan panics.

My daughter and I loved reading Crilley’s Akiko books together years ago; this story is much more mature but is a compelling read she’d love now. I was really impressed with the way Crilley uses non-white backgrounds throughout the book, which allows him to use white for emphasis and to draw my eye to different details; basically he continues to get better and better at the craft of comics, and everything he’s doing continues to wow me.


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