Eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters travel alone to Oakland, California to stay with the mother who abandoned them five years before. But she's not interested in spending time with them.
Cecile, aka Nzilla, sends the girls to the Black Panther breakfast program and tells them not to come home till its dark. So the girls attend Black Panther summer school to while away the hours.
In this roller coaster of laughter and heartbreak, the girls experience Black Panther social support projects and learn revolutionary philosophies for social change. They hear about heroes risking their freedom, even their lives, in the fight for justice and learn to be courageous in small ways.
Within this vibrant setting Delphine, Vonetta and Fern struggle to get to know their mother. Is she as crazy and uncaring as she seems? It takes 28 days for the girls to chip through Cecile's apparent armour of indifference, 28 days of requests, negotiation and psychological head-butting.
I will never forget Delphine's journey from fragmented memories to the full truth about the woman who left her behind. Even though I know Delphine and her sisters are fictitious, they burrowed deep into my heart. I couldn't help hoping that all those people Rita Williams-Garcia researched and spoke to on her quest to write One Crazy Summer found answers of their own along the way.
Those of us who didn't live through the Black Panther years and who can't imagine what it was like now have a powerful, heartfelt guide in One Crazy Summer. It might be a Middle Grade Fiction But One Crazy Summer is a treasure for all ages.
Title: One Crazy Summer
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, $11.99
Publication Date: 5 January 2012
For ages: 9 +
Type: Middle Fiction