Reviews for One Crazy Summer
Booklist Reviews 2010 February #1
*Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine's father decides that seeing Cecile is "something whose time had come," and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile's home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. "No one told y'all to come out here," Cecile says. "No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work." Like the rest of her life, Cecile's work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther-run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent's love. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters spend the summer of 1968 in Oakland visiting the mother who deserted them and getting an unexpected education in revolution from the Black Panthers. Williams-Garcia writes vividly about that turbulent summer through the intelligent, funny, blunt voice of Delphine, who observes outsiders and her own family with shrewdness and a keen perception. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
It's the summer of 1968, and eleven-year-old Delphine reluctantly shepherds her two younger sisters on their trip from Brooklyn to Oakland, where the mother who deserted them now lives. Thoroughly coached by her grandmother about how little Negro girls should behave to avoid scenes, Delphine maintains her own sensibility about what is appropriate and makes sure her sisters toe the line. Their mother Cecile is far from welcoming, sending them each day to the People's Center run by the Black Panthers to keep them out of her way while she writes her poetry. At the center, the girls get free food and an education in revolution. Williams-Garcia writes about that turbulent summer through the intelligent, funny, blunt voice of Delphine, who observes outsiders and her own family with shrewdness and a keen perception of why they each behave the way they do. Never afraid to stand up to anyone or anything, Delphine copes with her equally strong-willed mother calmly, "because that's how you treat crazy people." She takes over when she has to, and during the course of their month-long visit she refines her understanding of her mother and herself. The setting and time period are as vividly realized as the characters, and readers will want to know more about Delphine and her sisters after they return to Brooklyn with their radical new ideas about the world. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 January #2
A flight from New York to Oakland, Calif., to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned Delphine and her two sisters was the easy part. Once there, the negative things their grandmother had said about their mother, Cecile, seem true: She is uninterested in her daughters and secretive about her work and the mysterious men in black berets who visit. The sisters are sent off to a Black Panther day camp, where Delphine finds herself skeptical of the worldview of the militants while making the best of their situation. Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings: "Just like I know how to lift my sisters up, I also knew how to needle them just right." Each girl has a distinct response to her motherless state, and Williams-Garcia provides details that make each characterization crystal clear. The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 January #1
Williams-Garcia (Jumped) evokes the close-knit bond between three sisters, and the fervor and tumultuousness of the late 1960s, in this period novel featuring an outspoken 11-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y. Through lively first-person narrative,readers meet Delphine, whose father sends her and her two younger sisters to Oakland, Calif., to visit their estranged mother, Cecile. When Cecile picks them up at the airport, she is as unconventional as Delphine remembers ("There was something uncommon about Cecile. Eyes glommed onto her. Tall, dark brown woman in man's pants whose face was half hidden by a scarf, hat, and big dark shades. She was like a colored movie star"). Instead of taking her children to Disneyland as they had hoped, Cecile shoos them off to the neighborhood People's Center, run by members of the Black Panthers. Delphine doesn't buy into all of the group's ideas, but she does come to understand her mother a little better over the summer. Delphine's growing awareness of injustice on a personal and universal level is smoothly woven into the story in poetic language that will stimulate and move readers. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) [Page 47]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2010 March
Gr 4-7--It is 1968, and three black sisters from Brooklyn have been put on a California-bound plane by their father to spend a month with their mother, a poet who ran off years before and is living in Oakland. It's the summer after Black Panther founder Huey Newton was jailed and member Bobby Hutton was gunned down trying to surrender to the Oakland police, and there are men in berets shouting "Black Power" on the news. Delphine, 11, remembers her mother, but after years of separation she's more apt to believe what her grandmother has said about her, that Cecile is a selfish, crazy woman who sleeps on the street. At least Cecile lives in a real house, but she reacts to her daughters' arrival without warmth or even curiosity. Instead, she sends the girls to eat breakfast at a center run by the Black Panther Party and tells them to stay out as long as they can so that she can work on her poetry. Over the course of the next four weeks, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a lot of time learning about revolution and staying out of their mother's way. Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.--Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library [Page 170]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2010 June
Despite her creative name, Delphine is a steady soul, old for her age at eleven-going-on-twelve. Her mother, Cecile, abandoned the family years ago, leaving Delphine with the weight of caring for her two younger sisters. After all this time, Delphine and her sisters are sent to California to spend the summer of 1968 with a mother they can barely remember and who still appears to have no interest in her children. Expecting a summer of Disneyland and movie stars, the girls get a rude awakening when they see Cecile. On their very first morning there, Cecile gives the girls directions to a community center and makes it clear she doesn't expect to see them until dinner. The center turns out to be run by the Black Panthers, and the siblings spend their summer in revolutionary day camp. Preconceptions are shattered and the summer comes to a close with surprising results. Told in first person, this novel skillfully invites readers into the organized, responsible mind of Delphine, and as her worldview expands, her character becomes all the more genuine and engaging. The historical details sprinkled throughout the book do not seem forced; rather, they lend authenticity to the setting, and the portrayal of the Black Panthers breaks with the harsher stereotypes. All in all, this is a great read for fans of both modern and historical works.--Jennifer McConnel 4 Q 4 P M J Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.