Armstrong and Charlie

304p. ebook available. HMH. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544826083.
Gr 5–8—This story of an unlikely friendship alternates between the points of view of two boys from disparate backgrounds in 1970s Los Angeles. Charlie, who is Jewish, lives with his parents in a big home in the Hollywood Hills, where they are still mourning the death of his older brother. Armstrong, who is African American, lives with his parents and his sisters in an apartment building in South Central. Because of "Opportunity Busing" for Armstrong, both are starting sixth grade at Wonderland in Laurel Canyon. In spite of their differences and a rocky beginning, Charlie and Armstrong become good friends throughout the course of the school year. Together they confront racism, grief, and bullying. Strong language (including the use of racial slurs and sexist terms) and references to naked girls and French kissing make this a selection best suited for mature middle graders.
VERDICT This uplifting and touching exploration of friendship, with a vivid setting, is a solid addition to most middle school libraries.

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