PS Be Eleven is the sequel to the wonderful and critically acclaimed One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Set in the late sixties, both books tell the story of the Gaither sisters: Fern, the youngest, Vonetta, the middle sister, and Delphine, the oldest, who tells the story. In One Crazy Summer, the Gaither sisters travel alone from their home in Brooklyn, New York, to Oakland, California to visit with their mother who left them when Fern was a baby. During the course of their visit, the girls bond with their poet mother and develop a new sense of independence as they are expected to fend for themselves. They attend the Black Panthers summer program for kids where they learn about black pride, and become a part of the Black Power movement.
In PS Be Eleven, the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn after their summer in Oakland to big changes at home. Their father has a fiancé, and their uncle, Darnell, is fighting in Vietnam. Their grandmother, Big Ma, hasn’t changed a bit. She’s old fashioned and doesn’t appreciate Black Power, or her granddaughters’ new attitude. Delphine, who is older than her years from being responsible for her sisters, must learn how to pull back, and let her sisters assume some of the responsibility as everyone grows up. She is also facing sixth grade, being the tallest girl at the school dance, and how to get tickets to the Jackson Five concert.
Author Rita Williams-Garcia renders a sensitive portrait of Delphine as she works her way through the changes to her family and the change in the way she sees them and the larger world.
It’s a great read, and like One Crazy Summer, it leaves you wanting more. The girls are headed south to visit Big Ma in the next installment, Gone Crazy in Alabama.