P.S. Be Eleven
by Rita Williams-Garcia

Overview -

In this Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel and sequel to the New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book One Crazy Summer , the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn and find that changes large and small have come to their home.  Read more...

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More About P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

In this Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel and sequel to the New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book One Crazy Summer, the Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn and find that changes large and small have come to their home. This extraordinary novel earned five starred reviews, with Publishers Weekly calling it "historical fiction that's as full of heart as it is of heartbreak" and The Horn Book considering it "funny, wise, poignant, and thought-provoking."

After spending the summer in Oakland, California, with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence. 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. 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.

This extraordinary novel will find a home in the hearts of readers who loved Brown Girl Dreaming and As Brave as You.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

  • ISBN-13: 9780061938627
  • ISBN-10: 0061938629
  • Publisher: Amistad Press
  • Publish Date: May 2013
  • Page Count: 288
  • Reading Level: Ages 8-12
  • Dimensions: 8.43 x 6.07 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds

Series: Coretta Scott King Award - Author Winner Title(s)

Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > Historical - United States - 20th Century
Books > Juvenile Fiction > People & Places - United States - African-American
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Family - Multigenerational

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-04-15
  • Reviewer: Staff

Delphine and her sisters return to Brooklyn from visiting their estranged mother, Cecile, a poet who sent them off every day to a camp run by the Black Panthers in Williams-Garcia’s Newbery Honor–winning One Crazy Summer. It wasn’t the California vacation they expected, but the experience rocked their world. Big Ma, their grandmother, is no longer just a stern taskmaster, she’s an oppressor. Delphine, who again narrates, loses interest in magazines like Tiger Beat and Seventeen: “When there’s Afros and black faces on the cover, I’ll buy one,” she tells a storeowner. Reflecting society at large in 1968, change and conflict have the Gaither household in upheaval: Pa has a new girlfriend, Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a damaged young man, and the sixth-grade teacher Delphine hoped to get has been replaced by a man from Zambia. Though the plot involves more quotidian events than the first book, the Gaither sisters are an irresistible trio. Williams-Garcia excels at conveying defining moments of American society from their point of view—this is historical fiction that’s as full of heart as it is of heartbreak. Ages 8–12. (June)

BookPage Reviews

Growing up too fast in the '60s

When we last saw them, sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern were leaving Oakland after spending the summer with their mother. Now, in Rita Williams-Garcia’s P.S. Be Eleven, the sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning One Crazy Summer, we catch up with the Gaither sisters as they return to Brooklyn in 1968 and are reunited with Pa and Big Ma.

It doesn’t take long for the life lessons the sisters learned from their mother and the Black Panthers to clash mightily with the views of their grandmother, who wants to avoid creating a “grand Negro spectacle.” The oldest girl, Delphine, must find a way to live as her mother would want, while still respecting Pa and Big Ma, and keeping Vonetta and Fern out of trouble.

This balancing act becomes difficult very quickly. Soon after they arrive home, the sisters learn that their father is getting married. Vonetta and Fern love Miss Marva Hendricks right away, but Delphine wants to keep her distance. Adding to their struggle is Uncle Darnell, who returns home from the Vietnam War and lives with Pa, Big Ma and the girls as he fights his own internal battles. During all this, the girls stay in contact with their mother through letters—Delphine pouring out her heart, and her mother always ending her letters with a reminder to “Be Eleven.”

P.S. Be Eleven is a worthy successor to the unforgettable One Crazy Summer. The writing is just as powerful, and the story includes a convincing snapshot of the era, encompassing everything from the Civil Rights movement and Richard Nixon’s presidency to the beginnings of The Jackson 5. The story allows the girls to grow—learning new things, testing their ideals and discovering their true relationships with their mother and father, grandmother and many others. Williams-Garcia’s story offers a magnificent window into everyday life during the late 1960s and should not be missed.

BAM Customer Reviews