One Crazy Summer

by Rita Williams-Garcia

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Student Question

What are the conflicts, moods, themes, and styles in One Crazy Summer?

Expert Answers

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The major conflict of One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is between Delphine, the eleven-year-old narrator, and her mother, Cecile. The novel begins when Delphine and her sisters are sent to stay with their estranged mother in Oakland. Delphine feels her mother has abandoned them, and the author develops the conflict throughout the book—bringing it to a head when Cecile is arrested.

Although deeply serious subject matter is discussed, the young narrator's voice gives the book a lighter mood than it would otherwise have. Generally, Delphine's point of view lends a mature, reflective, yet still young tone. As one might expect, the mood changes throughout the novel. You may want to zoom in on a certain scene for a more specific mood. (For example, there is distinct tension in the first scene, where the girls watch the Cassius Clay fight.)

The style is informal and personal, as the story is told from an eleven-year-old girl's point of view. Williams-Garcia uses colorful figurative language ("my insides squeezed in and stretched out like a monkey grinder's accordion") that creates a more authentic narrative style.

The book also includes a number of themes. I recommend looking into the themes of black power, women's liberation, forgiveness, mother-daughter relationships, sisterhood, or the power of names. Coming of age, growth, family, independence, and difficult choices are also great thematic concepts to explore.

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