Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer depicts the story of how the lives of three sisters, Delphine, Fern, and Vonetta, changed over the course of one summer while visiting their estranged mother, Cecile. The story takes place in Oakland, California in the 1960s, a time and place where racial tensions were at an all-time high. While Delphine, Fern, and Vonetta flew out to Oakland with the intention of spending the summer with Cecile, she instead sends the girls to Black Panther summer camp every day. In this camp, they learn various things pertaining to their racial background, including how to behave when the authorities are around.
Adding to the historical theme of the book, Cecile writes poetry under the pen name Nzila. In her poems, Cecile advocates for the idea of black power. She is eventually jailed for the propagation of black power through her poetry. Essentially, the book explores not only the complex relationship between a woman who doesn't want to be a mother and her estranged daughters, but also the complex racial history surrounding the events of the story.