Book Review: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Title: One Crazy Summer (GoodReads)
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Page Count: 218
Genre: Historical MG
In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
The premise of this book is sort of stupid. The girls’ mother abandoned them, so their father decides to send them out to spend the summer with her, even though she clearly doesn’t want them there and they don’t want to be there. I understand why the plot of the book needed them to be there, but it didn’t seem entirely realistic. Of course, this book was also written for late elementary/middle grade students, so I guess that can be forgiven.
Still, once you get past that, the book was really enjoyable. I wish we learned a bit more about the Black Panther movement, but I still learned some. This book brought up a lot of interesting questions about identity and power. It was a fast read, and I think it would be a great addition to a middle grades classroom. Even as an adult, I enjoyed this book.
The best part of this book, though, were the characters – mostly the sisters. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern acted and sounded like real sisters. They knew just how to annoy one another but still looked out for each other overall. Their emotions always seemed real and understandable, even if I didn’t always agree with them. I really enjoyed getting to know them.