One Crazy Summer

RedReviewStarGr 4—7—The tumultuous summer of 1968 is the setting for this splendid story (Amistad, 2010) by Rita Williams-Garcia. Delphine, almost 12, along with her sisters Vonetta and Fern, fly across the country to visit their mother, Cecile, who long ago abandoned the family to pursue her poetry. The girls ache for hugs and kisses but desperately try not to hope too much. Good thing. When they arrive at her green stucco house in poor, mostly-black Oakland, California, their mother constantly mutters "didn't want you to come." Cecile fobs the sisters off on the local Black Panther community center, and the girls spend their summer days eating cold eggs and learning that the Black Panthers are more about serving their community and protecting the rights of black citizens than shoot-outs with the police. While U.S. politics roil and boil in the background, Delphine seethes over her crazy mother. Their final confrontation is both poignant and satisfying as we come to understand Cecile. Sisi Aisha Johnson infuses each character with a distinct personality and the tone is upbeat and even humorous. She perfectly captures each character's voice, and her delivery is silky smooth and perfectly paced. Seeing the historic summer of '68 through the eyes of sensitive, intuitive Delphine is a treat. Featuring flawless writing and narration, this is storytelling at its finest. Sure to garner numerous awards.—Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK

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