After spending a summer alone, Akilah can’t wait for her best friend, Victoria, to return from Nigeria (her country of birth). She’s excited to start fifth grade with her fun-loving friend.
But Victoria comes back a different person. She is subdued, unsmiling, and imposes a new rule on Akilah: “No laughter here.” After their class views a puberty video, Victoria reveals the truth to Akilah: While she was in Nigeria, her mother had her circumcised, to make her a “pure” and “clean” Nigerian woman.
Shocked, Akilah struggles to do the right thing. She is horrified by the ritualistic cruelty to which her friend has been exposed, but her own family has always taught her to revere traditional African culture. Together, Akilah and Victoria try to accept what has happened and re-learn how to laugh.
Rita Williams-Garcia won the 2011 Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor for One Crazy Summer.