Marjorie Ingall's Reviews > One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
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Apr 28, 10

bookshelves: kids-9-12, middle-grade-to-ya
Read from April 21 to 28, 2010

This didn't just blow my socks off; it blew them through space and time. This book was a TOTAL SOCK-OBLITERATING EXPERIENCE.

11-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters are sent to Oakland from Brooklyn for a month during the summer of 1968 to meet their mother, Cecile, who walked out when the youngest was a newborn. Turns out Cecile, who now goes by Nzila, wants nothing to do with her daughters (who live with their dad and grandmother) -- she's now a poet and an associate of the Black Panthers who seems to be seething at the girls' very presence in her house; every day she sends them off to the local community center's summer program run by the Panthers.

Am I making this sound like a Worthy Book, an Important Social History Lesson? It's COMPULSIVELY readable, with such well-drawn characters, lots of dialogue, humor, suspense, even a boy crush. Yes, it offers an absolutely immersive experience of a particular time and place...but he plot unfolds in ways I guarantee you do NOT expect. And I can't recall another character like Cecile in children's lit -- at first she seems like this 60s radical natural-haired terrifying version of an evil queen from a fairy tale...and then, slowly and not cheesily, there's a little nuance. Whenever you say a book is "brave" it sounds too noble for words, but I think the portrayal of Cecile is absolutely brave. BUT HEY! THIS BOOK IS AWESOMELY READABLE! REMEMBER THE READABLE!

Oh, and Delphine is SO endearing. If the world can be divided into the kind of girl readers who identify with Beezus and the kind who identify with Ramona, well, Delphine is for Beezuses like me. LOVE HUH.

One Crazy Summer is totally worth all the starred reviews and Newbury buzz -- but kids will like it as much as all those Guardians of Literature.
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message 4: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Great review!


message 3: by lisa (new) - added it

lisa church great review, i am going to read it!


message 2: by Marjorie (last edited May 07, 2010 08:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marjorie Ingall HUGE BUMMER: I tried reading this with Josie last nite -- TOTAL BOMB. The problem: The first paragraph describes the way turbulence delivers "a Cassius Clay left-and-a-right jab to the body of our Boeing 727." Josie didn't know who Cassius Clay was or what a Boeing 727 was. I explained. Then a couple of paragraphs later, Delphine mentions that some members of her family still call Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay and some call him Muhammad Ali...and Josie threw up her hands. "I don't understand! I don't understand!" Who was the book was supposed to be about? Is this Cassius person another of Delphine's relatives?Why did he change his name? It was all too confusing for her and she demanded I stop reading. We picked up Powerless by Frank Boyce instead. I'm hugely bummed -- I KNOW if she could have gotten past the first few pages she would have loved it, but she is a stubborn little weenus and we were DONE. (Had a similar experience with Calpurnia Tate, another book I just LOVED -- Josie hated the [beautiful!:] cover art and refused to even TRY it.)


message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Sounds kind of like our experience trying to read "Anne of Green Gables" aloud. I kept laughing at the writing and yelling "This book is the suckage!" The girls thought it was just ridiculous.


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