One Crazy Summer

3 books in series
5 out of 5 stars 1 rating

Summary

11-year-old Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, head from Brooklyn, New York, to Oakland, California, to try and spend a normal summer with their estranged mother, Cecile. But there are plenty of unexpected events in store for the Gaither girls. 

Treating the three young daughters she abandoned like a nuisance, Cecile takes the money that Pa gave them for expenses and fun, doling out a little each day for Vietnamese food and banning them from her workshop. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern wind up spending most of their much-anticipated visit at The People’s Center, a day camp run by the Black Panther Party. Wrapped up in the drama and tension that surrounds the treatment of the Black Panthers, the Gaither sisters decide to join a rally. In the midst of protests, they discover an unexpected bond with their mother—through a poem written by Cecile. As the trilogy continues, the girls learn more about Cecile’s traumatic past and determination, the impact of the Vietnam war on their beloved uncle, and Pa’s Southern roots and family secrets, while grappling with the changes happening all around them in the 1960s.

Sisi Aisha Johnson captures the struggles of 11-year-old Delphine, the oldest of the three sisters and the trilogy’s central character, and her conflicted feelings about her mother and a new way of approaching life. Through her stunning delivery, each character gets a distinctive voice and personality, and each place the girls visit comes fully alive. As one listener puts it: “Sisi Aisha Johnson voices everything perfectly.”

Rita Williams-Garcia was born in Queens, New York, and lived in California and Georgia as a child, giving her experience with navigating regional differences. She is the author of several novels for young adults, including Gone Crazy in Alabama, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. In her fiction, she includes themes of civil rights, black pride, women’s rights, and racism, as well as insight into the challenges of motherhood and the power of friendship and family, in a kid-friendly way. Her realistic fiction features relatable characters who appeal to young people of all kinds and colors.

One Crazy Summer has won numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award and Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and was named a Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, and a finalist for the National Book Award.

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