It's the summer of 1968, and three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern, are shipped off from their Brooklyn home to Oakland, California, to visit their mother, who abandoned them seven years ago. Their father thought it was time for them to get to know their mother. When they arrive, it's not the normal hugs and kisses you would get from a mother, but a a cold indifference. Their month-long California vacation is not off to a good start. No Disneyland. No movie stars. Their mother is veiled in mystery that the girls try to solve. As the oldest (11 years old), Delphine needs to help her sisters make the best of thier situation.
With an uncaring tone that says she can't be bothered, the mother gives the girls money for food (they're absolutely NOT allowed to go in the kitchen) at the local Chinese restaurant and they're sent to the People's Center for breakfast. It is there that the girls reluctantly (on Delphine's part) and happily (on Vonetta and Fern's part) get involved in classes run by the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary organization that fights for Black Power. Throughout the days of their visit, they become more involved than they realize.
The voices and personalities of the three girls come through the most in this novel. Delphine is extremely strong-willed, and being the oldest, she is always the responsible one. Quiet and reserved, Delphine is not one to make waves. Vonetta is the middle child and the one who wants to be the center of attention. As the baby in the family, Fern is happy in her own little world: singing, dancing, and imagining. Despite the differences among these three, they have a way of finishing each other's sentences in a kind of sing-song manner. The story is set during a momentous time in American History. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy are assassinated. Huey Newton (co-founder of Black Panther Party) is still in jail. The Vietnam War is raging, and unrest and radical change predominate. This novel will resonate with you long after you've read the last page.
2010 National Book Award Finalist
2011 Coretta Scott King Award
2011 Newbery Honor Award Winner
Publisher: Amistad (January 2010)
Available as an eBook.