Gone Crazy in Alabama
By Rita Williams-Garcia
Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern continue their journey through African-American experiences of the 1960s in Gone Crazy in Alabama, in a satisfying and entertaining novel that continues their individual journeys as well as that of the nation.
In the first book, One Crazy Summer, the girls left their Brooklyn home to spend time with their mother, a poet and free spirit living in Berkley. Back home for P.S. Stay Eleven, they tried to reconnect with family, even as that family grew, while seeing that the protest movement did not find fruitful ground in their grandmother’s heart.
In this third novel, the girls go to Alabama to visit their grandmother while their father and his new wife await the birth of a new child. There are old connections to rekindle with cousins. Their grandmother and her half-sister speak of each other every day and live within a stone’s throw, but don’t speak to each other. The moon landing is nearing (and fears the older generation has of this event recall what my own elders maintained about the effect on the planet). Delphine and Vonetta try to find ways to assert their own independence in kinship with their mother while still loving the rest of their family, while Delphine is especially struck by the Jim Crow hierarchy of the rural South.
When a possible tragedy looms, the girls and the rest of the family find ways to support each other they may not have tried earlier.
All three books are wonderfully fun and smart books about sisters. The differences in the three parts of the United States is woven into the stories in marvelous fashion, especially the contrast to being in Alabama compared to Brooklyn. The historical settings of the books bring back those days to readers who were there and will introduce them to those who need to know what happened before they came along in an entertaining fashion.
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