Cover image for Gone crazy in Alabama
Title:
Gone crazy in Alabama
ISBN:
9780062215871

9780062215888
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
293 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Companion to One crazy summer and P.S. Be eleven.
Summary:
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother Big Ma and her mother Ma Charles. Across the way lives Miss Trotter, Ma Charles' half sister. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.
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Summary

Summary

Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time.


Author Notes

Rita Williams-Garcia graduated from Hofstra University. She has written several books including Blue Tights, Every Time a Rainbow Dies, Fast Talk on a Slow Track, One Crazy Summer, and No Laughter Here. Like Sisters on the Homefront was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She won the PEN/Norma Klein Award. She currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults Program. She won the Coretta Scott King awards in 2016 with her title Gone Crazy in Alabama in the author category.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

For their third outing, the irrepressible Gaither sisters of Brooklyn get on a Greyhound bus bound for Alabama. It's 1969, and Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are spending the summer with Big Ma, their father's mother, and a passel of other vividly drawn relatives. Delphine, now 12, again narrates (which must make Vonetta spitting mad). The bickering between these sisters is as annoying as it is authentic, and it mirrors a long-simmering feud between Ma Charles (Big Ma's mother) and her half-sister, Miss Trotter, who uses Vonetta to send spiteful messages back to Ma Charles. The back-and-forth allows Williams-Garcia to unspool the Gaithers' complex family history: as slaves, as blacks in the segregated south, and in relation to the Native Americans who once called the area home. As a plot device, an argument between two grannies can't quite match the events that drove One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven. But it's reward enough just to spend more time with this feisty, close-knit family, whose loyalty to and love for each other trump everything else. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

Williams-Garcia says goodbye to the Gaither family (One Crazy Summer, rev. 3/10; P. S. Be Eleven, rev. 5/13) in this involving and emotional concluding installment. It's been a year since Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern visited their Black Panther mother, Cecile, in California. Now the sisters are heading to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and their great-grandmother, Ma Charles, and Pa has to warn them: "None of that black power stuff in Alabama. Black Panthers strut about in Brooklyn and in Oakland, but they're not so loud and proud in Alabama and Mississippi." Twelve-year-old Delphine is reading Things Fall Apart and is concerned that the title reflects her own life: "Our family is scattering, piece by piece." While down South, Delphine learns much about her large, twisting family tree and about family lore, including a Creek Indian patriarch; the estranged half-sister of Ma Charles who lives across the creek; and even white relatives with ties to the Klan. When a tornado strikes and disaster looms, Delphine sees how her scattered family has the strength to come together, all under one roof, to hold one another up. She takes Cecile's words to heart: "Things do fall apartBut you're strong enough to walk through the storm." Williams-Garcia's novel has the feeling of a saga, an American story of several generations, related effectively from Delphine's first-person point of view -- and with help from some feisty elders. dean schneider (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Readers of One Crazy Summer (2010) and P.S. Be Eleven (2013) have spent quality time with the Gaither sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern, in both Brooklyn and Oakland. Now, in this final installment of the trilogy, the girls are Alabama-bound to visit with grandmother Big Ma and the rest of the kin. By now, the girls know that family can mean entanglements the saga of the Gaither-Trotter clans is nothing but knots and two of the folks involved are happy to keep the families squabbling: the girls' great-grandmother, Ma Charles, and Ma Charles' sister across the creek, Great-Aunt Trotter. The trouble began when the greats were girls of the same age and discovered that they shared a father. Now they trade eggs and milk, but mostly barbs, and when the Gaither sisters hit the Alabama countryside, the ladies have three new go-betweens, especially the overacting Vonetta, who takes great satisfaction in delivering the messages with uncanny mimicry, stirring the pot to a boil. And there is more family trouble brewing. Big Ma's contempt for the girls' mother, Cecile, hasn't diminished, and she's not particularly fond of their stepmother, who's pregnant with her fourth grandchild. Vonetta has not forgiven her uncle Darnell, who stole her Jackson Five concert money in the previous book (though he's cleaned up his act), and the sniping and one-upmanship between the girls continues to be well tuned and well timed. It's not until a near tragedy occurs that the family sees that the strands that weave them together can make them stronger just as easily as they can pull them apart. Family also comes into the story through Williams-Garcia's aim to explain the complex intertwined tree of southerners African Americans, whites, and Native Americans of which the Gaither-Trotter clan is a representative example. Some readers will certainly be unsettled by the story of the greats' grandfather, who escaped slavery, was taken in by a Creek tribe, and married a Creek woman. by whom he had 11 children, only to be sold off (along with some of his children) by his in-laws. Even more puzzling to youngsters will be the character of the town's sheriff, another Charles, who is law officer by day, Klansman by night and yet still calls Ma Charles by the endearment Mama. This element could have used more explanation, but throughout the series, Williams-Garcia (rather like Cecile with her daughters) has always steered far clear of condescending to her readers. Whether the subject at hand is the Black Panthers, the Vietnam War, or race relations, she always tells her very human story; and then, how much more deeply readers want to delve into the story's current or historical events is up to them. At the heart of all this family interaction remain the Gaither girls. Narrator Delphine, almost 13, still feels the responsibility of being the oldest, but now her challenge is to loosen the reins on sisters who are also getting older and coming more deeply into their own selves. Her narrator's voice continues to be strong and true. Here we see where she gets it: from a great-grandmother and great-aunt who sit on their porches and tell stories that patch together triumphs, heartaches, and family history, and from Cecile, one of the most unique mothers in children's literature, who is tied to her own truth and tells it, whatever the consequences. If this is good-bye to Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern, it's a worthy one, though readers would hardly mind if, in the words of the relatives' Southern good-bye, they would see the girls again, real soon. --Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2015 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-The three Gaither sisters-Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern-travel from their home with their father in Brooklyn to their grandmother and great-grandmother's house. Summer is a lazy time in 1960s rural Alabama, and the girls find all sorts of diversions: feeding the chickens, hiking through the woods, and, most interestingly, listening to family gossip. They come to find out that their heritage is quite a bit more colorful than they ever knew. Racial prejudice is very much a living thing South and the girls are given stark reminders about how much safer and freer it is to be a black person in New York City. The Black Panthers and the KKK are both sensitively handled in a manner that middle grade listeners will understand. While the book can stand alone, references to events from the prior two Gaither sisters novels will excite fans and encourage new readers to learn more. Though the story is full of heart, the constant bickering and squabbling among the children and among the adults is tedious and can detract from the story. Sisi A. Johnson gives each character a distinctive voice and is a joy to listen to. VERDICT Recommended, especially where the previous volumes are popular.-Suzanne Dix, The Seven Hills School, Cincinnati, OH © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

The coping skills of three sisters are put to the test as they leave Brooklyn for a rural summer in 1969 Alabama. Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, the sisters who captured readers' hearts in One Crazy Summer (2010) and P.S. Be Eleven (2013), are off to spend the summer in Alabama with Big Ma. This visit comes at a time of great awareness for almost-13-year-old Delphine as well as looming change in her family. Delphine is still in charge, but Vonetta seeks to step out of her older sister's shadow. The trip also means the girls will confront their Uncle Darnell, who let them down during his stay in Brooklyn. Hurts and grudges go even deeper as the story of the girls' great-grandmother and her estranged sister is gradually disclosed, revealing family dynamics shaped by racial history. All the conflicts fade when a tornado threatens an unbearable loss. Character development again astonishes, the distinctive personalities of the girls ringing true and the supporting cast adding great depth and texture. Indeed, the girls' cousin JimmyTrotter is so fully realized it seems unfair to think of him as secondary. This well-crafted depiction of a close-knit community in rural Alabama works beautifully, with language that captures its humor, sorrow and resilience. Rich in all areas, Delphine and her sisters' third outing will fully satisfy the many fans of their first two. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.