Top positive review
Things Change, People Change . . . .
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2021
This second book about Delphine, Vonetta and Fern Gaither picks up right where the first one ends. The girls are returning home to Brooklyn from their visit with their mother in California, and no one but their grandmother seems to be the same. Their father seems happier and it turns out he has a fiancé. Their uncle, who returns from Vietnam on a medical discharge, is having nightmares and always seems lethargic. And the girls themselves no longer accept their grandmother's views about the place of blacks in society.
Big Ma was from Alabama. As she saw it, it was best that blacks stayed in their place, and there was no shame in kowtowing to whites if it kept a black person from being hanged. (And white people were always looking for an excuse, or no excuse at all, to hang a black person!) You also didn't spare the rod, and black parents needed to stop giving their kids "ooga-mooga" names. Obviously, she is none too happy when the girls start reciting what they learned in the Black Panther day camp in California, and when Fern sometimes calls herself Afua, the name her mother wanted to give her. Her disapproval does not silence the sisters, however.
After their uncle disappears, their grandmother goes back to Alabama and their father's new wife moves in, Delphine begins to question her role in the family. When her stepmother suggests to her that she is keeping Vonetta from emotionally growing by controlling everything, she is confused and badly wounded, since she had always been expected to and rewarded for mothering her sisters. Moreover, her own mother now regularly writes her letters from California, urging her to "be eleven", instead of like a responsible adult all the time. (Of course, if her mother hadn't run away, maybe she'd be like a kid instead of an adult.)
Her mother's letters do comfort Delphine, though, and she is very happy whenever she gets a new one in the mail. Something else is making her and her sisters very happy in this story, too--a new singing group called The Jackson Five. It was love at first sight for all three of them, with Delphine liking the older, taller brothers, since she was the tallest girl in her class. Hence, this book, like the first in the trilogy, is a wonderful mixture of fun and serious things, where young readers will also learn some 1960s history.