One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Pub Date: January 26, 2010
“I couldn’t figure out why Eunice sat there with me. It was bad enough to feel stupid. I didn’t need anyone sitting with me reminding me of it.”
This was one of many lines I absolutely loved in this novel. Delphine’s voice is funny, relevant, and authentic. I could see an oldest sister acting and thinking like her—responsible beyond her years, yet still young and inexperienced. I loved reading about how Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern manage for a month with their uncaring, unmaternal mother in a new city surrounded by the Black Panther movement.
The three sisters, who live with their father and grandmother in Brooklyn, have to go spend a month in Oakland with the mother they haven’t seen for almost seven years. Unfortunately, their mother is not a welcoming presence. They are basically left to their own devices to get food and stay out of their mother’s way: no trips to the beach, no Golden Gate Bridge, and no Disneyland. Instead, they spend every day at a summer camp for children to learn about and support the Black Panther Movement, get dinner takeout to eat on the floor, and avoid disrupting their mother’s peace.
I liked how real the girls were in this book, especially Delphine. She reminded me of several older sisters I have known who took responsibility for their siblings at a young age. The sisters fight, manipulate, and harass each other, but you can see the love and support underneath. I had a hard time relating to the mother, but such a woman is not completely unbelievable. The Black Panther Movement adds a great historical twist, as well. It showed a different side of the Black Panther Movement- most history books focus on the guns and violence, not reaching out to the children in the community with free breakfasts.
If you like strong, cute, authentic young characters who handle a difficult situation with stubborn resilience and humor, I would highly recommend this book.