Books: Fiction

One Crazy Summer

Book — Fiction. By Rita Williams-Garcia. 2010. 224 pages.
Chapter book for middle school introduces readers to the Black Panthers in 1960s Oakland.
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements

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.  [Publisher’s description.] More books by Rita Williams-Garcia.

ISBN: 9780060760908 | Amistad Press

One comment on “One Crazy Summer

  1. Jennifer on

    A shout out to an excellent middle grade book (and by the way, adults, it’s perfectly fine to read children’s lit – there’s much to learn, many, like this one, are absolutely engaging, and if you don’t think you have the time or energy for an adult book right now, kids’ books require a little less of each). Delphine and her sisters are characters all readers will easily relate to. It is fascinating to witness them discovering their mother for who she is and the movement in which she is involved. A great read all around. There are two sequels – PS Be Eleven with the girls back in NY and the newest one, Gone Crazy in Alabama, takes the sisters to visit Big Ma down south.

    For kids and others new to the history of the Black Power movement, this wonderful story offers some good context.

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