Review: One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. It does several things successfully: Sister relationships, kids who have to take on extra responsibility at a young age, homeless teens, and political action in America in the 1960s. And all within a palatable mid-elementary storyline. I worry, though, that kids far removed from that time and place will somehow get the picture that the black panthers condoned abandoning your children. The panther characters in this book seem angry, dogmatic, and tone-deaf to the needs of the actual people in front of them (other than food). The reasons for their political movement and the history behind them are only briefly touched upon. The ending also implies that everything is now okay. Delphine’s mother may have told the story of her hard life; it explains, but does not erase, the hardness she has shown her girls. While reading, I kept making connections to the memoir by Alice Walker’s daughter who wrote about living between two worlds, coasts, and parents. I also have to admit that I can’t help reading stories like this through my own experience of airline shuttling with siblings to parents whose attention was elsewhere, riding buses to pools and stores and other parts of the city alone at 8 and 11 — It sounds free and adventurous and full of potential glamour but, for kids under certain age, it just feels unmoored.

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