One Crazy Summer

By Rita Williams-Garcia

Three sisters, ranging in age from eleven down to seven, fly from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with their mother (who abandoned them seven yOneCrazySummerears ago) during the summer of 1968.  Cecile has no TV, very little furniture OR motherly feelings, and refuses to let any of her daughters in the kitchen—she sends them down the block to buy Chinese take-out and they picnic on the living room floor.  She sends them out of the house every day—usually to a summer camp sponsored by the Black Panthers.  Delphine is the oldest and has been looking after her younger sisters for her entire life.  Delphine has everyone on a schedule:  “Only when I sat in the tub did I wish my Timex wasn’t so reliable or the ticking so steady.  Oh, how I wished the minute hand would slow down and give me time for a nice, long soak.  Wish all I wanted, I couldn’t leave Vonetta and Fern alone……Three extra minutes in the tub and I’d be sorry.  I stuck to the schedule”    [p 50].

They eat Chinese take-out until Delphine goes grocery shopping at Safeway and cooks food (she knows her grandmother at home expects her to take GOOD care of her little sisters)—Cecile allows her into the kitchen as long as she is quiet and doesn’t mess with Cecile’s project.

This is historical fiction for upper elementary through middle school, though I thoroughly enjoyed this look back at a turbulent time, seen through the eyes of Delphine.

One Crazy Summer is the Winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award and a 2011 Newbery Honor Book. One Crazy Summer is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Juvenile Collection on the 3rd Floor.

Review written by Clyde Ruth B.