Title: Once Crazy Summer
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Published: January 26, 2010
Theme: Rejection, Discrimination, and Family
Character Origin: Human
Book Type: Middle School | Pages: 240
Ages: 8-12 | Book Level: 4.6 | Lexile Measure: 750L
Synopsis: In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. “This vibrant and moving award-winning novel has heart to spare.”
Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.
This is a story of three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern. They travel from Brooklyn to Oakland for the summer to meet their mother who abandoned them shortly after giving birth to Fern. For seven years, they were raised by their father and grandmother. The summer will be filled with events the girls were not expecting.
This book was quite enjoyable to read. Williams-Garcia’s words flowed effortlessly off the page. I couldn’t help but feel empathy for Delphine as her story is echoed in many homes even now–the oldest takes care of the youngest. The oldest sibling takes on a parenting role due to some form of parental or familial deficiency.
I loved how Williams-Garcia emphasized the importance of a community. Communities looked out for and supported each other and that’s something sorely missing in our society today. I think middle schoolers will close this book with an appreciation that things are not always what they seem and there can be good in the most unlikely of places.