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One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (audio)
labandbooks
proseandkahn
Unabridged book on 5 compact discs (5.25 hours). Read by Sisi Aisha Johnson. Recorded Books, September 2010.

Eleven-year-old Delphine can be relied on to keep things on an even keel with her two younger, often squabbling sisters. She has had to ever since her mother abandoned the three seven years earlier, leaving them in Brooklyn with their father and moving across the country to Oakland, California to write poetry.

The three are traveling alone, by plane across the country to spend 28 days with Cecile. Delphine has the $200 that her dad gave her to go to Disney Land tucked in her shoe. She sits between Vonetta and Fern because she knows it won't be long before the two start in fighting and her grandmother warned her not to make a "negro spectacle" of themselves on the plane - or anywhere.

When Delphine finally spots Cecile lurking in the airport, not rushing to claim them, she has some mixed feelings, unease over having to stay with a mother who apparently still doesn't want them and pride, because her mother is gorgeous and glamorous and mysterious. She also has no intention of taking her girls to Disney Land and demands that Delphine turn over the cash. She promptly sends the girls out for Chinese takeout and bars them from entering her kitchen. The following day, she sends them to the People's Center for breakfast and tells them to stay for the summer camp. This organization is run by the Black Panthers. Delphine, who listens to the news with her grandmother, has heard of the organization. She is none to happy about this. But as the days pass and she learns more about the organization and its aims, she becomes more accepting of them. She even grows to understand her mother as well.

Issues of race, class, family, sisterhood and motherhood are all explored as observed through the eyes of Delphine, who prides her own strength and whose moral compass is true.

I fell head-over-heels in love with this story from page one. Delphine's voice just touched my heart. The narration by Sisi Aisha Johnson was (again) pitch perfect. I have already mentioned how she is one of my favorite audio book narrators (Ninth Ward, Red Polka Dots in a World Full of Plaid), she always manages to sound young without sounding cloying and produces distinct voices suited to the personality of the characters.