Monday, February 23, 2015

Book of the Week

Gone Crazy in Alabama

by Rita Williams-Garcia

Published by HarperCollins, 2015
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-221587-1

Ages 8-12

In the third and final volume about the Gaither sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are sent to rural Alabama to spend the summer of 1969 with their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Before putting them on the Greyhound bus, their father tells them: “The South’s not like Bed-Stuyvesant and you can’t get more southern than Alabama. … Once you cross the line from North to South all of that black power stuff is over.” At 12, Delphine is old enough to understand the important difference in social mores and feels she is capable of keeping her younger sisters in line as Pa instructed her to do. But 10-year-old Vonetta is ready to strike out on her own, enjoying the attention of Ma Charles and her half-sister and life-long rival, Aunt Miss Trotter. The two elderly sisters haven’t spoken to each other in years and dramatic Vonetta is only too willing to serve as a conduit between them, as they pass information and insults back and forth, taking advantage of Vonetta’s twin skills of mimicry and showmanship. The sisters’ daily trips across the creek to the Trotter home ultimately offer them insight into their own family history, and an understanding of their family’s place within a specific rural Southern setting, all of which seems more than a little crazy to Delphine. And this all lays the groundwork for some much-needed family unity when a tragedy strikes. The witty dialogue and singular characterizations that were hallmarks of the first two volumes, One Crazy Summer and P. S. Be Eleven continue here. And like its predecessors, this novel offers insights into social history as it was lived by several strong African American women, who each took different paths during a pivotal time of change.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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