Study Guide

One Crazy Summer What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

When Delphine first arrives in Oakland, she tells us, "Cecile was no kind of mother. Cecile didn't want us. Cecile was crazy" (4.42). Well then. Right away, we think the title—One Crazy Summer—is a reference to just how crazy Cecile is (and how much Delphine doesn't like her). But there's more to the story, er, title than that: Delphine learns that Cecile is more complicated than Big Ma or Pa let on. What's crazy about the summer isn't so much Cecile as it is how much Delphine's eyes open to the nuanced complexities of the world.

We're not saying Delphine agrees with—or even understands—Cecile's decision to high-tail it out of her kids' lives, but at least she gets to know her mom a little better by the end of the book. Delphine also develops a greater understanding of the Black Panthers, shifting from seeing them as bad news to appreciating many of their members and their reasons for fighting. The title, we think, is a shout-out to this crazy process of opening herself up to new ideas and understanding.

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