by Rita Garcia Williams
One Crazy Summer follows the three Gaither sisters as they travel from Brooklyn to Oakland in the summer of 1968, where they hope to get to know the mother who left them. Delphine, the oldest sister, takes on many roles in her family: caretaker of her younger sisters Vonetta and Fern, the keeper of her mother’s memory after she leaves, and the narrator of the story. The sisters are surprised when on their first morning with their mother she kicks them out of the house and sends them to the community center, where the Black Panther Party runs a daycamp and provides breakfast for the children. As the summer continues, the sisters make friends and are empowered by the teachers at the community center. The historic details, relatable dynamics among the sisters, and evolution of their relationship with their powerful, enigmatic mother earned this middle-grade novel the Newberry Honor and Corretta Scott King award, among others. The following books in the trilogy, P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama, see the sisters facing more changes and challenges, and discovering deep family connections. The audiobooks are particularly delightful, bringing the distinct personalities of all three sisters to life. A moving story, full of humor and joy!
See the Jones Library Antiracism Book List for recommended titles for all ages