I really enjoy reading about characters with different lives then mine, and in terms of realistic fiction, the Gaither Sisters definitely fit the bill.
It’s 1968, and sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern have spent most of their lives without a mother. Big Mama, their Daddy’s mother, lives with them and it helps, but just isn’t the same. Then word comes from Oakland, CA that they are going to stay with their mother Cecile. Oakland is the birthplace of The Black Panthers and the girls quickly learn about the civil rights movement. They also learn about being sisters and being daughters.
In the second book, the girls have come home to Brooklyn, NY and things there have changed. Their father has a new girlfriend who is very liberated (which drives Big Mama so crazy that she leaves) and Uncle Darnell has come home from Viet Nam a very changed man. Cecile keeps reminding Delphine to just be 11, but it’s hard in such chaotic times.
The girls are going south to Alabama to visit Big Mama. They are warned that things are very different in the south when it comes to civil rights. The girls discover their Great Grandma has a half sister whom she won’t speak to, but sure likes to talk about. From them D, V & F learn the family’s turbulent history. A tornado rips the family apart as V goes missing. It also brings them together as Daddy and his new wife and Cecile come to help find Vonetta.
I really liked how Williams-Garcia uses the family’s diverse residences to show how different the Civil Rights movement was for people in different parts of America. You can’t help but love these sassy girls. Delphine is the epitome of oldest sisters and Vonetta reminds me of my own sister (who’s the middle child). Fern is sassy and sweet and I love her tag line, “Surely do.”
I’m from the generation after the sisters, so I appreciate this look into life at this time. Maybe you yourself are from their generation-you might still find the sisters’ experiences to be very different from your own.