Delphine is 11 years old, and the big sister to Vonetta and Fern. She has had to be the mother figure for her little sisters, because their mother abandoned them years before. It is the summer of 1968, and Delphine’s father has sent the girls out to California for 28 days. For the girls, this is the summer of questions being answered and identity being discovered. For Delphine, this is the summer she learns how to be a little girl again.
One Crazy Summer is pretty excellent all the way around. SUCH BEAUTIFUL WRITING! It’s poetic, heartbreaking, raw, and real. The sisterly dynamic between Delphine and her sisters was so tangible, it reminded meÂ of the arguments I had with myÂ friends and cousins growing up. The chorus of “are not!/are too!” was very authentic.
There is a passage where Delphine describes her mother (who abandoned her) as a statement of fact. All mammals have a mother, and that is what Cecile was to her and her sisters, a fact of nature. That was so poignant, sophisticated and raw.
I loved that Delphine finally found the freedom to be a child, which was set against the Black Power Freedom struggle of the 1960s/70s. Delphine takes her role as the eldest VERY seriously, and I often felt pain for her. Her whole sense of identity comes from her filling the role that their mother ran out on. She finally gets to be a litte girl.
By the way, this book is a 2011 Newbery Honor Winner.