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Summary: Oakland, California is NOT Brooklyn, NY. For one thing, Delphine's mother lives in California and she lives with her grandmother, father, and two sisters in New York. This year, the girls - with Delphine in charge - are spending a few weeks with their mother in Oakland. The girls, hoping for a reunion and lots of tourist visits, got a shock. Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She won't let them in her kitchen, and she doesn't want her visitors to know they're there. They are on their own, except for when they are at a summer camp sponsored by the Black Panthers. Delphine is determined to do see San Francisco, and plans a day for the girls. But when they get home, Cecile has been arrested. What are they going to do now? This middle grade novel is Delphine's first-person story of the summer of 1968.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 10 and Up
Interest Level: 11 and Up
Reading Level: 4.6
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Delphine has a phenomenal "voice" that resonates from the page. Her first-person narrative is a great insight into what she sees, but also the feelings of the time. The most difficult part of this book is Cecile's behavior toward her girls. Even at the end, she doesn't soften that much. The not-a-fairy-tale ending is also what makes it a powerful story.
Pros: Readers will love Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern and see "today" in the events of 1968. This is a fast, enjoyable read.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a book that everyone in the family should read. The discussions and the impact of one's decisions are just as relevant today as they were for 1968 when this story takes place.
Educational Themes: There is plenty to explore with this book. From building on the information about the Black Panthers and racial tensions of the 1960s to exploring relationships, responsibilities, and choices.
Notes: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Literary Categories: Fiction - Black History, family, coming of age, historical fiction, 1960s, middle grade, multicultural
Date(s) Reviewed: August 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.