Destinee Sutton's Reviews > One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
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May 19, 10

bookshelves: african-americans, historical-fiction, middle-grade, tween, families, siblings
Read in April, 2010

I really liked the writing and the feel of this book. It's rare for children's fiction to talk about the Black Panthers, and Williams-Garcia does a great job presenting them from a child's perspective, focusing primarily on the community activism and welfare provided by the Panthers as well as the unfair persecution they faced. Many of the characters (especially the youngest sister, Fern) really lived on the page. And I appreciated the complicated look at what it was to be a young black girl in 1968--feeling girl power, black power, but ever-conscious of making a "grand Negro spectacle" in front of whites.

Still, it didn't wow me. There wasn't much in the plot to keep the reader engaged. Three young sisters (11-year-old Delphine, 9-year-old Vonetta, and 7-year-old Fern)from Brooklyn fly to Oakland to spend a month with their mother, a woman they hardly know. The mother is cold to them and sends them out every day to the Black Panther summer camp for kids. Over the course of their month in California, the girls learn a little about the Black Panthers and kinda sorta get to know their mother. At the very end there's some great stuff, but it lags in the middle. Overall, a sophisticated mix of serious and sweet, but ultimately anticlimactic. It needed to be either shorter or longer to be a Great Book.

One last thing: I know I can't be the only reader to wonder what's up with the father and grandmother sending the girls (all under age 12!) to live with a woman who doesn't want them and then NEVER calling to check in on them. True, the mother didn't have a phone. And true, those were different times. But still.
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