Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book review - Armstrong and Charlie

Title: Armstrong & Charlie
Author: Steven B. Frank
Genre: historical fiction
Similar books: Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd
                     Paperboy by Vince Vawter
could spark some great discussion

Summary(provided by publisher): Charlie isn’t looking forward to sixth grade. If he starts sixth grade, chances are he’ll finish it. And when he does, he’ll grow older than the brother he recently lost. Armstrong isn’t looking forward to sixth grade, either. When his parents sign him up for Opportunity Busing to a white school in the Hollywood Hills, all he wants to know is "What time in the morning will my alarm clock have the opportunity to ring?"  When these two land at the same desk, it's the Rules Boy next to the Rebel, a boy who lost a brother elbow-to-elbow with a boy who longs for one.
From September to June, arms will wrestle, fists will fly, and bottles will spin.  There'll be Ho Hos spiked with hot sauce, sleepovers, boy talk about girls, and a little guidance from the stars. 
Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Armstrong and Charlie is the hilarious, heartwarming tale of two boys from opposite worlds, Different, yet the same.

My opinion: There are, of course, dozens of books about racism and the civil rights movement for every age level. For the most part these books explore blatant, systemic racism. Frank has taken a more subtle approach. Given a school that is the subject of busing, we do get some obvious racism, students leaving the school, bullying. The bulk of the prejudice, though, is more subtle. Its based on assumptions and snamp judgements. Its the kind of prejudice we may not even realize is happening. Frank's characters question everything. Even open and accepting characters have moments of bias. It's a subtle, nuanced cast of characters. The issues in the novel are perhaps a bit too easily resolved, but it's an important addition to the conversation about racism, prejudice, and assumption.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley

No comments:

Post a Comment