Goodreads Description:Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.
This is not a fast paced book, but the story moves along at pace that keeps the reader engaged. Eleven-year-old Delphine is wise beyond her years. Through her eyes young readers can experience 1960s Oakland at the height of the Black Panthers. The reader also experiences the disappointment of a mother who seemingly has no feelings for her own children. Williams-Garcia’s beautifully written story not only allows us experience Delphine’s growth over the summer, but also experience her beginning understanding of her mother. Cecile is not a lovable character at all, but (slight spoiler here) does show the potential for redeeming herself.
This is a perfect read for 5th graders and up.
Mrs. Archer’s rating 5 of 5.