February 15, 2011

One Crazy Summer

I liked it but had some quibbles.  But overall, this is as good as you've heard.  It's the voices.  These girls come alive when they're talking and the narrator seems true to life--a real eleven-year-old.  These three sisters do go through one crazy summer indeed and are strengthened by their experience.  The language and the voices and the characters of the girls, for the most part, ring completely true.

But would their father and grandmother really send them across the country for that long without knowing what they'd be in for?  Would they really not want them to call, like every day to make sure all was well?  I mean, if their mother really abandoned them then I doubt even the most air-headed parent would send them without someone else.  That was just a big stumbling block for me.

The stuff about that time and the interactions with the Black Panthers were interesting, though.  It seemed like we were being set up to learn a lesson about indoctrination and dogmatic beliefs, but it's really a character study.  A character has to change and grow and the narrator does indeed.  Her mother does too at the very end, but that rang a bit false for me.

But like I said, these are quibbles.  It's an amazingly written book with real insight.

The book takes place in '68.  For another view of the effects of the Black Power movement in '76, check out a pretty good movie that came out last year which you may have missed; the well-made but ineptly-named Night Catches Us.  It has an amazing soundtrack and some featured actors that are easy on the eyes anyway.

One Crazy Summer

Night Catches Us

3 comments:

Ms. Yingling said...

In 1968, someone had to die before you made a long distance call, so that part isn't surprising. Maybe the grandmother was just tired of them all and wanted some peace!

Jim Randolph said...

Your comment makes the phone call exchange a little more believable, but still. I would have gone with them!

Kathy said...

I agree with Mrs. Yingling - I think about growing up in the 70's and what my parents let me do that I would never let my kids do now - of course my parents never put me on a plane to visit a long lost mother, but you know what I mean. I did find the Black Panther thing interesting and think it would be a good book for a 5th grader to read for the historical content (they skim this part of history in late 5th grade)