'One Crazy Summer' by Rita Williams-Garcia

Cleveland Park Library

'One Crazy Summer' by Rita Williams-Garcia

cover of one crazy summerOne Crazy Summer is set in the summer of 1968 in Oakland, Calif.

Readers see the changes in history through the eyes of Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, with humor, honesty, and innocence. Delphine’s comments on the events unfolding before her are showed in the way only a child can. Delphine is quite conscious of the differences between blacks and whites in society, yet she is also an 11-year-old girl who responds from her heart rather than from propaganda and what others say. Delphine is funny, intelligent, taking the initiative to educate herself, and is determined to protect her sisters, yet at heart she is still a little girl who longs for her mother to show that she loves her and her sisters and cares enough to want to protect them.

In the book, Delphine embarks on a journey that will change her forever, as she witnesses discrimination, racial profiling and other social changes. That summer, her mother Cecile sends her and her sisters to a summer camp. Her reason? She did not ask for them to visit for the summer and she doesn't want them in her way while she writes poems, prints flyers, and -- most of all -- is left alone.

But the camp is no typical summer diversion. The camp, sponsored by a revolutionary group called the Black Panthers, give the girls radical political education that Delphine does not want and her younger sisters do not understand. (As they stated on their first day at the camp, they only came for a free breakfast.)

Nonetheless, the girls' summer journey brings Delphine closer to understanding her mother, who abandoned the girls seven years ago, leaving them with their father and grandmother. She starts to understand Cecile’s strange behavior, her associations with strange men with Afros and black berets, and her reluctance to show any compassion for or interest in her daughters. Delphine makes you feel, she brings the emotion to the surface. This book should be read by everyone who comes in contact with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes.