Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gone Crazy in Alabama

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia is the final book in the trilogy about the Gaither Sisters of Brooklyn, NY.

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern and are spending the summer in Alabama with Big Ma. Cows, chickens, and encounters with the KKK are far cry from the streets of the city they're used to. It's also a far cry from their last summer experience in Oakland, CA. It's not entirely bad though as the girls learn more of their family's history. But things in the family are far from perfect. There are many divisions, rivalries, and long-standing resentments that need to be faced and dealt with. It will take a tragic turn of events to bring everyone together again.

Delphine is still trying to adjust to the changes in her life the past year has wrought. Things are changing more than ever now as their dad's wife is pregnant, and she will be entering junior high. The conflicts between her and Vonetta are becoming more frequent too. Despite the lessons learned in the previous book, Delphine is having a hard time letting go of being in charge of her sisters, and Vonetta is fighting hard against it. Delphine is constantly mad at her for the way she treats Fern, oblivious to how she treats Vonetta the same way. This conflict is the center of the story and is mirrored in the sibling rivalry between their great grandmother and her sister.

The family history the girls learn is an interesting one, and the way it is injected so organically into the story keeps things interesting and funny. The humor in the rivalry between the elderly sisters is a humorous balance to the more fraught parts of the story. Uncle Darnell is getting back on his feet after his issues in P.S. Be Eleven, but Vonetta is determined to never forgive him. Big Ma is as sour as ever towards life in general and, often, the girls in particular. She seems to see them as the evidence of everything that is going wrong with the world. All of these are dealt with beautifully and realistically. And we get to see Cecile again too. There is a few chapters where everything is just awful, but even in these chapters Garcia adds enough humor to take the edge of it without detracting from the horror of the situation.

P.S. Be Eleven is still my favorite of the trilogy, but I like the way Gone Crazy in Alabama resolves a lot of the issues that hadn't yet been dealt with and looks toward a bright and hopeful future.

I read an ARC received from the publisher, Amistad Press, at ALA Midwinter. Gone Crazy in Alabama is on sale April 21.

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