One Crazy Summer is written for grades 4 to 7 and has a subject that isn't often covered by children's fiction. It is set in 1968 in Oakland California where the Black Panther Movement is going strong.
Delphine and her two younger sisters have been sent by their father from their home in Brooklyn to visit the mother who abandoned them 7 years earlier. They expected to have a warm, loving reunion with their mother but instead found a woman who was as cold and distant as possibly could be. She wants nothing to do with them, doesn't allow them in her kitchen, and instead insists that they spend their own money to buy Chinese takeout. She sends them to a summer camp during the day that is being run by the Black Panthers. Delphine discovers that the very traditional view taught by her father and grandmother is very different from the views of the Black Panthers and her mother, who spends her days writing poetry instead of being a mother to her children.
I felt a little uneasy about this subject. It is quite controversial-not just the Black Panthers (a couple of whom get arrested during the story) but the neglect and emotional abuse by their mother who literally abandoned a nursing infant and ran off to write her poetry and who has no desire to know her children. I guess that it would be a good vehicle for discussions about responsibility and do the best you can with what you are given but I can't say that I recommend it. Rated PG.