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Review of Gone Crazy in Alabama

williams-gracia_gone crazy in alabamaGone Crazy in Alabama
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Intermediate, Middle School   Amistad/HarperCollins   291 pp.
4/15   978-0-06-221587-1   $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-221588-8   $17.89   g
e-book ed. 978-0-06-221590-1   $9.99

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 apart…But 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.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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