Saturday, July 30, 2011

One Crazy Summer

Williams-Garcia, R. (2010). One crazy summer. New York: Amistad.
This book is a 2011 Coretta Scott King Award winner.

Delphine and her two sisters, Vonetta and Fern, are sent to visit their mother who abandoned them years earlier.  It is the 1960's and the three girls travel alone from New York to Oakland, California.  What makes this even more difficult is that they are African-American. 
When they get to Oakland, they must accept the fact that their mother did not want them to come see her.  This was all their father's idea. She tells them several times that she didn't want them, and she won't even call Fern by her name. We find out later why this is.  Delphine, who is the oldest, takes on the responsibility of caring for her sisters while in Oakland.    This is a role she is used to since her mother left them. Their mom does nothing for them and demands they spend their days away from her.  At the center where their mom sends them each day, they discover the Black Panthers.  At first the girls are leery about this place and the people, but eventually grow to like the people there and even what the group stands for.  During the day, Cecile, the mom, spends her time writing poetry, which is something the girls are proud of; their mom is a poet.  Throughout the story, the girls never seem to make any progress in mending their relationship with their mother, but as I read the book, I grew to love the different personalities of the girls and wondered how their mother couldn't. The author does a great job of creating lovable characters, although Vonetta's selfishness does tend to irritate the reader as much as it does her sisters! At the end of the story, the girls touch their mother's heart and finally create a bond that has never been there. Great ending!! I also enjoyed the natural flow of the dialogue and how authentic the story felt. It is obvious why this is an award winner!

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