Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Book Summary

In 1968, Delphine looks after her two sisters in New York with her father and grandmother, while their mother has disappeared to California. The girls have an opportunity to visit California and to get to know their mother better. Instead, they attend a day camp run by Black Panthers and grow up a little as they experience new things and meet new people.

This is the first book in the Gaither Sisters trilogy. The second book is called P.S. Be Eleven, and the third is called Gone Crazy in Alabama.

One Crazy Summer book cover
One Crazy Summer

Book Review

An interesting look at this turbulent time in U.S. history, as well as an examination of how to handle unmet expectations in relationships. Delphine's mother is not very engaged with her children, and the story is more about Delphine's determination to accept that than about her mother's character development. It's especially interesting as Delphine tries to reconcile her loyalty to her mother with her grandmother's disapproval of her mother. This is the only book for middle grade readers that I've found that directly depicts the Black Panther movement, and, as seen through Delphine's eyes, it's an accessible look at the politics of the period. While it's not a feel-good story that will resonate with all readers, it's a unique book compared to other historical fiction titles for this age group.

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Black Panther Party in Oakland, California in 1968
  • Growing Up
  • Family Relationships; Estranged Mother; Sisters
  • Taking Risks; Learning New Things

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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