Where The Mountain Meets the Moon. This time I took along One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, and was pleased as punch when I closed the book upon arriving at Union Station.
Delphine is trying to keep her younger sisters and Fern calm as they jet through turbulence on the way to go meet their mother Cecile in California. Delphine has an inkling of the turbulence she and her sisters may be in for once they get to Oakland. She has vague memories of being with Cecile in their kitchen in Brooklyn while she wrote on the walls and muttered to herself. She also knows that Cecile left soon after Fern was born. After that, Big Ma moved from down South to Brooklyn and took up right where their mom left off.
Now the girls are about to spend their summer with Cecile, just because Daddy says it's time. Cecile didn't send for them, or ask about them, but they are coming anyway. When they finally land, the stewardess hands them off to Cecile -- a strange woman in a pair of man's pants, gigantic sunglasses and a scarf. Not one for affection, she tells them to follow her and strides off. After a commute that involves a particular taxi and a bus ride, the girls enter into Cecile's house. It's more than the girls thought it would be based on all of the talking that Big Ma had been doing.
But it's not quite homey. The girls are banished from the kitchen, and are told to head to the back bedroom that they would all be sharing. There's no food in the house, no television, and it becomes obvious quite quickly, that the girls won't be depending on Cecile for any entertainment this summer!
The morning after they arrive, Cecile directs Delphine and her sisters to the People's Center to get some breakfast. She tells them that it will be easy to find. After all it's "black folks in black clothes rapping revolution and a line of hungry black kids." (p. 57)
This sets the stage for the slow reveal. The story is one of family, of politics, of race and friendship. Williams-Garcia has seemingly effortlessly woven in the feel of the time period (1968), and allowed a window into Oakland and the reality of the Black Panther movement; whether it be senseless arrests or educating children. There are enough jumping off points to bring on a study of the time period, but the story never veers into message territory. Delphine is the epitome of the 11 year old. She's a responsible first born who is trying to figure her mother out, while finding her own self at the same time.
I was amazed upon finding the reality of Cecile's existence. All of the characters in this book are multifaceted, and remind the reader to look a little deeper.
A must read.