Almost-13-year-old Delphine, middle sister Vonetta and baby sister Fern Gaither are back in the final installment of the award-winning series by Rita Williams-Garcia. This time they’re spending the summer of 1969 in Alabama with their grandmother (Big Ma), great-grandmother (Ma Charles) and great-aunt (Miss Trotter).
Delphine is losing her grip on her sisters, and poor Big Ma can hardly keep her citified granddaughters in line. She blames their fresh behavior on their Black Panther mother and women’s libber stepmother. “One don’t eat chicken or ham. One don’t forgive. The other don’t iron. Just git, Delphine. Take your sisters and git.” But there is no place to git to. They head across the creek to visit Miss Trotter, who has plenty of family stories to tell. Half-sisters Big Ma and Miss Trotter do not speak to each other, except through the stories told to the younger generation.
It’s impossible to ignore the parallels between the Gaither sisters’ growing rift and the chasm between the elderly half-sisters. Delphine grows increasingly worried about her family, just wishing they could all get along under one roof. When danger comes to the family, she gets her wish—in a way.
The harrowing ending will have readers on the edges of their seats until the book’s satisfying resolution. Delphine might not be able to control her sisters, but she is a true sister: She’s there when needed.
Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She also reviews for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.