Set in the summer of 1968, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is a story about three young sisters who are sent by their father to spend summer vacation with their mother in California. They don’t know this mother who ran out on them after the youngest was born and hasn’t contacted them since.
Flying across the country in 1968 was a big deal. And an even bigger deal if you were African American. The Civil Rights movement is in full swing and once the girls get to California, they unwillingly get caught up in the movement thanks to their revolutionary mother, Cecile, and her Black Panther ties.
Cecile is not welcoming of their visit and reminds them often that she doesn’t want them there. This is heartbreaking to read as the girls, the oldest being twelve, try to cope with a mother that truly doesn’t want them.
As I read this, I kept thinking how it would be a perfect companion novel for The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Watsons is narrated by a boy and One Crazy Summer is narrated by a girl, but both are learning about their changing worlds in spite of themselves and the effects are profound. Such good stories and great ways to teach kids about the Civil Rights Movement. I’m trying to think of ways I can use both of them in my classroom next year.
P.S. Why so short? Because I just wrote my Fifty Shades of Grey post too and I had so much to say about it that I didn’t have anything left for this one. I can’t wait to post it this afternoon and hear your thoughts–come back soon!