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One Crazy Summer Hardcover – January 26, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–7—It is 1968, and three black sisters from Brooklyn have been put on a California-bound plane by their father to spend a month with their mother, a poet who ran off years before and is living in Oakland. It's the summer after Black Panther founder Huey Newton was jailed and member Bobby Hutton was gunned down trying to surrender to the Oakland police, and there are men in berets shouting "Black Power" on the news. Delphine, 11, remembers her mother, but after years of separation she's more apt to believe what her grandmother has said about her, that Cecile is a selfish, crazy woman who sleeps on the street. At least Cecile lives in a real house, but she reacts to her daughters' arrival without warmth or even curiosity. Instead, she sends the girls to eat breakfast at a center run by the Black Panther Party and tells them to stay out as long as they can so that she can work on her poetry. Over the course of the next four weeks, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a lot of time learning about revolution and staying out of their mother's way. Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
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*Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.” Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love. Grades 4-7. --Gillian Engberg
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Top Customer Reviews
Three girls’ journey to finding who their mother truly is
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is a fantastic book, It has very funny and lovable characters, they were unforgettable to me and are really one of my favorite book characters ever. The book also had a lot of poetic language in it and that really stood out to me because it made the book way more interesting and intriguing. Lastly, the book addresses real life problems that african americans faced throughout time. I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
This story all starts out in 1968, the eldest of 3 sisters, Delphine is a caring and loving, caring sister, she is a mother figure to her sisters Vonetta and Fern. They don't know their mother and on that summer, their grandparents send them across america to Oakland to see their real mother. They set their standards pretty low for what they were going to expect but when they got there, it was even worse. It seemed like their mother, Cecile wanted nothing to do with them.. She treated them bad. Made them get cheap chinese takeout every day. They are sent to a camp and strange men always enter their house. The three girls are very eager to find out who their mother truly is. This is their adventure with so many twists and turns to find out who their mother really is under her shades and her scarf, will they succeed?
My first reason why One Crazy Summer is a great book is that it addresses real world problems. If a book has this, it's good because it teaches all the readers a lesson. This book had a lot of this.
My first example on page 123 states, “Imagine. To have your father sitting down eating dinner or shining his shoes while watching TV. To have your front door blown off its hinges and the police rush in. To see your father in handcuffs, led away.”
This part really got to me. It made me feel very sorry for those african americans that are mistreated by cops like that and we all know how big of a problem that is.
My second example on page 76 states, “ Cecile forced us to go to the free Huey rally ‘A teen got shot last rally’ ‘It ain't safe for kids like us,’”
This part stood out to me because it told us about the Black Panther rallies and how dangerous they really were.
These reasons are why this book addresses real life problems in a great way.
My second reason why One Crazy Summer is a great book is that it has great and unforgettable characters. For me, if there isn't relatable characters that i can connect to, I can't really even connect with the book, but this book did a great job with that.
My first example on page 215 states “ We weren't about to leave Oakland without getting what we’d come for [...] we needed a hug from our mother.”
This was the last page of the book and it really stood out for me because the girls had gone through an internal struggle of their mother not loving them and it really made me love them even more because they never gave up trying and towards the end, she started opening up to them more and more.
My second example on page 11 states, “ Heads turned our way. A stewardess rushed to our row. ‘Sit in your seat missy,’ She scolded at me.”
This part was really funny and cool because Delphine was telling Vonetta and Fern what to do and she did something wrong and the little girls started yelling at her. This part made me love the characters even more because the little girls didn't care if they were in front of a lot of people, they still had the same personality.
These Examples and reasons are why this book had very lovable characters.
My last reason why One Crazy Summer is a great book is that it has poetic language. Now, a book doesn't need poetic language that much for me to like it but when it does have it, it is a huge bonus to the book. This book definitely had that.
My first example on page 76 states, “A name is important. It isn't something you stop in the litter basket or on the ground. Your name is how people know you.”
This phrase right here really stood out to me because I had never heard of someone explain it like that and I totally agreed with what she said. It was poetic because it used a metaphor in it and that metaphor fit in perfectly with what she was trying to say.
My second example on page 148 states,” Push here. I move. There. Push. There. I move. Two squares over. Buy those squares. From under my. Feet. i land on. The free square.”
This poem by Cecile really stood out to me. At first, I thought Cecile was a bland person, but as I read more and more of the book, I realized what an artist she really was. This personally was my favorite poem of hers because I didn't get it but I loved the wording of it.
In conclusion, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is a great book, it has very lovable characters, it addresses real life problems happening around the world and lastly, it has poetic language. I recommend this book really to anyone as it has a mix of tastes. Overall, I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
During the summer of 1968 eleven year old Delphine and her two younger sisters fly from their father's home in Brooklyn to their mother's in Oakland, the same mother who abandoned the six years ago, the same mother who doesn't want them now. They attend a Black Panther camp and Delphine discovers the Panthers are so much more than the negative press from the media. With sometimes poignant irony, she learns to stand up for herself, to respect herself and to fight for what's right,
Although ONE CRAZY SUMMER is listed as a boon for middle graders, children, teens and adults will find things to savor from Delphine, her sisters and everyone they encounter. Rita Williams-Garcia doesn't sugarcoat the serious events, but tells the story through Delphine's serious, insightful mind. This would be a great read in English or History classes for older kids, because many of the issues are still topical. ONE CRAZY SUMMER is so good I want to read everything else Williams-Garcia has written.
Themes: sisters, family, emotional abuse/neglect, activism, prejudice, history, slanted media coverage