Delphine is on an airplane with her little sisters Vonetta and Fern on her way to spend a few weeks in the summer with the Mother she barely remembers. From Brooklyn to Oakland is a long way to go to spend time with someone you don’t even know, even if she is your Mother. But Delphine’s Dad thinks it is a good idea, so the girls go.
Mother is a statement of fact. Cecile Johnson gave birth to us. We came out of Cecile Johnson. In the animal kingdom that makes her out mother. Every mammal on the planet has a mother, dead or alive. Ran off or stayed put. Cecile Johnson – mammal birth giver, alive, an abandoner – is our mother. A statement of fact.
Reading that quote you get a good idea about what Delphine thinks of her Mother and the fact that her Mother just up and left. Delphine’s Mom left the girls when Fern was just a tiny baby and for all that time hasn’t done a single thing to spend any time with the girls or even talk to them on the phone. Cecile, the girls’ Mom, isn’t even very happy when she meets them at the airport. It’s like she’s put out that they’ve come to visit. Once at her house she forbids them from entering her kitchen and sends them out for takeout. During the long summer days she sends them to the park or the neighborhood community center to get them out of the house.
At the beginning of the summer you see Delphine getting to know this woman who is her Mom, and a lot of the time she doesn’t like her very much. She questions her judgement all the time. But as the day goes by Delphine starts to see who Cecile is, besides being the girls’ “mammal birth giver.”
I think when you’re a kid, it’s hard to see grown-ups, especially parents, as real people. It’s really hard to imagine your parents being anyone other than your parents, even though they were kids and grown people with a life before you came along. I liked watching Delphine get to know “Cecile the person” and learn to accept who Cecile really is and not who Delphine wishes her to be. Author: Rita Williams-Garcia 2011 Coretta Scott King Award, 2011 Newbery Honor Book, 2011 Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, 2010 National Book Award Finalist
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- Rita Williams-Garcia Official Website