One Crazy Summer is a 2010 award-winning children’s book written by American author Rita Williams-Garcia . Set in Oakland in the summer of 1968, it tells the story of three young sisters named Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern who attempt to reconnect with their mother, Cecile, who abandoned them when they...
One Crazy Summer is a 2010 award-winning children’s book written by American author Rita Williams-Garcia. Set in Oakland in the summer of 1968, it tells the story of three young sisters named Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern who attempt to reconnect with their mother, Cecile, who abandoned them when they were little. Cecile doesn’t really like to be involved in her daughters’ lives, so she decides to send them off to a summer camp run by a revolutionary socialist and political group—the Black Panthers or the Black Panther Party.
Due to its setting as well as the fact that it presents fictional characters and, by extension, fictional life stories but real, historically accurate social situations and circumstances, One Crazy Summer is also considered to be a historical fiction novel.
Thus, one of the themes of the novel is the socioeconomic and political environment in the late 1960s; specifically, it offers insight into the African American experience of this period. The Black Panther Party described in the novel was a real, existing organization which was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, with the main purpose of ending police brutality and eradicating systemic racism; after some time, however, the group’s political program began to closely resemble Marxist ideologies. The Black Panthers certainly had justifiable motives, but their methods were somewhat questionable and more radical in comparison to the peaceful and diplomatic methods of Dr. King.
The members of the group often organized camps in which they intended to teach the African American youth about the problems and struggles of the African American population and to motivate them to join their revolutionary movement. The camp where Delphine, Vionetta, and Fern are sent to is one of those educational camps led by the organization. In this context, the novel also authentically portrays the psychology of the group as a collective and attempts to educate the readers on the effects and consequences of discrimination and prejudice as well as the importance of family.