Nina's Reviews > One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
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's review
Feb 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: children

I have one major quibble with this book and am trying to figure out how much it really matters. The geography is off. There is a Magnolia street in Oakland, but there is no Orchard (they walk to Orchard, past the library, to find the Center). There was in the 1800s, but it was changed at the turn of the century to 30th street (which was near a library in 1968). I'm suspecting that Williams-Garcia got old info. Also, and to me more importantly: there's no hills in this part of Oakland. Wherever it was that this story happened in the Magnolia st/Black Panther range, it's all "the flats" of Oakland. And I mean TOTALLY flat. Near the water. No hills to take a go-kart down.

Besides this: fantastic.

(Oct 2010 update: check out my blog post.)
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Monica (last edited Feb 10, 2010 03:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monica Edinger Ha! I can totally see why this bugged you. I mean, there is that whole bit when they have to make their own way to the Center the first morning. And given the go-kart thread, a hill is necessary. (Maybe there was a hill in 1968? Just kidding!)

But I'm glad to know you otherwise thought highly of it.

Claire I can't wait!

But, frustrating about the geography. Probably not a huge deal for readers who aren't local, but my kids would call that out right away - not the street names, probably, but the hills for sure. I wonder how she made that mistake - just a real unfamiliarity with Oakland? I'm surprised by it because hills/flats is such a cultural touchstone here.

Nina Good to hear comments; I'm giving myself some space of time and then will re-read...and am assuming it'll stop bugging me at some point.

message 4: by Kimberley (new) - added it

Kimberley Little Stuff like this bugs me, too, as I'm reading a book. I grew up in San Francisco and the Bay Area and writers often get things wrong. They make assumptions about the climate (it's warm like Los Angeles or San Diego) or the hills, etc. They hear the term, the "Oakland Hills" and assume it's all hilly. Not true, as has been pointed out.

I recently read a YA set on the beaches near San Francisco and it drove me crazy the constant stuff throughout the entire book about how the girls were on the beach in bikinis early in the morning and sunbathing and body-surfing for hours in the water - and that just would NOT happen. The average year-round water temp is 55 degrees and the mornings are foggy and cold. Even in the summer! Especially in the summer actually. Autumn is the best time of year to visit San Francisco if you want good weather and no fog on the Golden Gate Bridge. Not that you might not have an occasional nice day in June, but not a whole month of beautiful days! And no one is up to their necks for two hours swimming in 55 degree water! There's a reason surfers wear wet suits in Northern California.

Seems like such simple research, too. I was really surprised that no critiquers or editors, etc. caught the climate errors.

message 5: by GraceAnne (new)

GraceAnne So many writers write about NYC and get it wrong. That's a dealbreaker for me. I can't enjoy the book if they get my city wrong.

Rebecca Anderson Living in Oakland,there are a lot of places where there are hill in the so-called flatlands. But West Oakland is pretty flat. It's "Oakland flat" though (no Illinois flat)- so it's easy to find streets that appear flat, but have a significant grade. I loved this book, knew the geography was off, but it didn't bother me too much (it DID feel like a New Yorker writing about Oakland). Watch a Pixar movie (like UP) if you want to see a media player portraying Oakland accurately :)

Lori geez people. I do have to ask the question, "how important is it?" It's fiction and is one person's story.

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