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Newbery or Not: P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

Book Blurb: “In this exquisite sequel to the New York Times bestseller One Crazy Summer, the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn and find that changes large and small have come to their home. After spending the summer in Oakland with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence, and the sisters aren’t the only ones who have changed. Now Pa has a girlfriend. Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a different man. But Big Ma still expects Delphine to keep her sisters in line. That’s much harder now that Vonetta and Fern refuse to be bossed around. Besides her sisters, Delphine’s got plenty of other things to worry about-like starting sixth grade, being the tallest girl in her class, and dreading the upcoming school dance (her first). The one person she confides in is her mother, Cecile. Through letters, Delphine pours her heart out and receives some constant advice: to be eleven while she can. The sequel to the Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven stands on its own as a funny, moving story of three sisters coming of age in the turbulent 1960s.”

Pub Stub: Amistad, ISBN-10 0061938629, May 2013

Author Tidbits: Williams-Garcia, Rita. 2011 Newbery Honor, Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Coretta Scott King Award, and  National Book Award nomination recipient for One Crazy Summer (Amistad, 2010).

Newbery or Not: Its predecessor failed to medal but came away with a silver sticker in 2011. Can P.S. Be Eleven outshine its older sister? Certainly it’s distinguished: Williams-Garcia skillfully and realistically captures a host of issues including generational differences, reactions to racism, family dynamics, the emergence of a new generation of women’s rights supporters, rejection and acceptance of a stepparent, PTSD in Viet Nam veterans, drug addiction, and a young lady’s first boy-girl dance with grace, sensitivity, and humor. Historical fiction titles make up a good bit of the Newbery Award list. Moreover, P.S. Be Eleven has that certain charm and nostalgia prevalent in Newbery medalists. Even if this sequel, which stands alone admirably, fails to outdo One Crazy Summer, another Honor nod is definitely appropriate. Surely is! Power to the people!

Weigh in: Did you read One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven? Which is your favorite?


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