One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

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The “crazy” summer the book’s title refers to is the summer of 1968.  And for eleven-year-old Delphine, the summer is crazy indeed.  Along with her two young sisters, she flies from New York to Oakland, Calfornia to stay with their mother who abandoned them years earlier.  As if that isn’t enough, the girls attend a summer camp sponosored by the Black Panthers.  

When the three girls arrive in Oakland, things don’t go as they hoped.  The girls expected Disneyland, and instead they enter a mysterious and politically-charged environment.  All three girls are wonderful and memorable characters, and their political and personal journeys make One Crazy Summer one of the most powerful middle grade novels I’ve read. 

My only criticism of this book is that I really missed an “author’s note” at the end explaining more about the Black Panthers and the political events of 1968.  While the book is challenging and rich, readers unfamiliar with the events of those revolutionary days would have benefited from a note about the time period.

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