One Crazy Summer

18 Aug

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia focuses on the mature-beyond-her-years Delphine and her two younger sisters-Vonetta and Fern. It is the late 1960’s and the Black Power movement is gaining momentum. Of course, living their day-to-day life with Big Ma (their grandmother) and their father in Brooklyn, the girls aren’t aware of the Panthers. In fact, Big Ma’s biggest concern is that the girls don’t make “grand negro spectacles” of themselves. It is only when the girls go to visit their mother out in Oakland, CA that they directly experience emotional and social change of this time period.

The biggest conflict is that their mother abandoned the three girls, and this is the first time they will see Cecile since she left to work on her poetry and to be alone. She shows no love for her children, but she did agree to let them come visit, so Delphine knows there must be something there. However, on their first day in California the girls are shipped off to free breakfast and camp at the Black Panther People’s Center. When the girls are at their mother’s house, she stays locked away in the kitchen working on her poems.

Delphine, despite the enormous responsibilities and pressures she faces is determined to get their mother to acknowledge her and her sisters. Delphine has a strong narrative voice, and she and her sisters have a humorous and complex relationship. The author brilliantly uses the historical setting to advance the relationships between the characters. She really captures what it is like to be a child being introduced to new concepts and trying to figure out her own beliefs about the world and her family. The book won a lot of awards for good reason.

One negative comment, though, the cover art makes the book look like it was written for very young children – it reads more first grade than middle grade. Will this cover attract its target audience?

Nora’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Amistad (2010)

One Response to “One Crazy Summer”

  1. Em 20. Aug, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    I love this cover – I think it’s very sweet – but you’re right, it does read younger than the text does.

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