cover image Gone Crazy in Alabama

Gone Crazy in Alabama

Rita Williams-Garcia. HarperCollins/Amistad, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-221587-1

For their third outing, the irrepressible Gaither sisters of Brooklyn get on a Greyhound bus bound for Alabama. It's 1969, and Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are spending the summer with Big Ma, their father's mother, and a passel of other vividly drawn relatives. Delphine, now 12, again narrates (which must make Vonetta spitting mad). The bickering between these sisters is as annoying as it is authentic, and it mirrors a long-simmering feud between Ma Charles (Big Ma's mother) and her half-sister, Miss Trotter, who uses Vonetta to send spiteful messages back to Ma Charles. The back-and-forth allows Williams-Garcia to unspool the Gaithers' complex family history: as slaves, as blacks in the segregated south, and in relation to the Native Americans who once called the area home. As a plot device, an argument between two grannies can't quite match the events that drove One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven. But it's reward enough just to spend more time with this feisty, close-knit family, whose loyalty to and love for each other trump everything else. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (Apr.)