"Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia."
So many people have been raving about this one and I was really pleased when I loved it as much as all of you! That doesn't always happen, as most of us know. Delphine is such an amazing character...realistic, driven, and bold. A fantastic role model for kids. She speaks her mind, but knows when to hold her tongue, keeps her sisters in line, and really just wants her mother to love her, despite Cecile's resistance to anything that has to do with her daughters.
And touching on the typically untouched subject of The Black Panthers was what made Rita Williams-Garcia's novel truly fantastic. We learn something about this group that definitely does not have a whole lot of middle grade fiction written about it, yet takes up a whole lot of our not-so-distant history. You won't even notice the educational aspects, as they're blended so seamlessly into this family drama.
Writing doesn't get much better than this and I would certainly expect this book to be winning some awards come next year. I was beyond impressed with the characters, notably Delphine, as well as the hard shell of a mother in Cecile. A huge recommendation to librarians, educators, kids, and adults alike.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (I'd give it a 6 if I could)
One Crazy Summer
Review copy received from publisher
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