One Crazy Summer Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of One Crazy Summer.
This section contains 648 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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One Crazy Summer Summary & Study Guide Description

One Crazy Summer Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.

NOTE: Due to the structure of this novel, the summary and analysis sections have been divided by page sections. This study guide specifically refers to the 2010 Amistad/HarperCollins Publisher paperback.

“One Crazy Summer” is a children’s novel of historical fiction by Rita Williams-Garcia. Set during the summer of 1968 in Oakland, California, “One Crazy Summer” follows the lives of the Gaither sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern, as they visit with their mother who abandoned them some seven years before. When the novel begins, 11-year-old Delphine, 9-year-old Vonetta, and 7-year-old Fern have been sent to Oakland from their home in Brooklyn, New York, by their father, Pa, and their grandmother, Big Ma, to reestablish contact with Cecile, the girls’ mother. Big Ma is not crazy about the idea, because she never got along with Cecile, and because she knows Cecile is a greedy, selfish person. The girls are more interested in being able to visit California and seeing the sights, rather than getting to meet their mother. None of the girls have anything positive to say about their mother, because their mother abandoned them. Delphine harbors the most resentment, for she is old enough to have some memories of the time when their mother was still around, which makes her abandonment all the worse.

In Oakland, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are less than happy to meet their mother. She is a Black Panther, spends most of her time in the kitchen working on poems and printing up flyers, and repeatedly says she never asked to have the girls visit her, and should have gone to Mexico to get rid of them when she had the chance. This is harrowing to the girls, but they decide to remain upbeat, wanting to make the most out of their trip. Each day, they are ordered to go to the local People’s Shelter by Cecile, where they meet other Black Panthers, some of whom are incredibly cruel and militant, like Crazy Kelvin. Kelvin criticizes Fern for carrying around a white baby doll. Others, like the teacher Sister Mukumbu, are kind and welcoming, and help the girls to learn about the Black Panther movement. Sister Mukumbu also teaches daily classes for kids at the Center about things like rights and revolution, and has the kids engaged in projects designed to solicit change, such as coloring in protest posters.

Delphine and her sisters continue to have a hard time with their mother, who only ever wants to order Chinese food. Delphine begins cooking for her younger sisters and her mother, instead. Cecile tells Delphine it would do her well to be selfish and not care for others. Delphine is beyond angry at this remark, for it conjures up images of abandonment once more. After a day of taking in San Francisco, Delphine and her sisters return home to find that their mother, and two Black Panthers, have been arrested. Cecile’s print studio in the kitchen has been trashed, and the girls clean it up. They decide to perform one of Cecile’s poems at a coming rally, with the aim of seeing to free Huey Newton and renaming a park after Bobby Hutton. On the day of the rally, the girls perform the poem to great applause. Fern also has her revenge on Kelvin, outing him as being friendly with the police –something she had seen without telling anyone before. Cecile is released from prison in time to attend the rally and see how well her daughters have done. She explains to her daughters that she has more or less been on her own since she was 11, when her own mother was killed in a car accident. Cecile tells Delphine to enjoy being a child while she can. The next day, at the airport, as the girls all leave for New York, they hug their mother before they go.

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