Saturday, March 25, 2017

Armstrong & Charlie

Looks like I have a new favorite book.

Armstrong & Charlie by Steven B. Frank is set in L.A. in 1975 when a boy from the projects - Armstrong - is bussed to a school in Hollywood Hills.  Charlie and Armstrong do NOT like each other.  Both are smart.  Both are stubborn.  Both have things to prove.

They butt heads.  They snarl at each other.  Charlie is afraid of Armstrong.  Armstrong is mad about having to get up at 5:30 am to go to school.  Charlie lives a life of privilege.  Armstrong has to work for every penny.  They have good families.  They are good people.  They become friends.

Things to think about:
1.  If bussing went the other way, would inner city schools have improved more quickly?  But, of course, more affluent people would simply have taken their kids out of public schools.  A lot of Charlie's classmates left Wonderland Elementary School.

2.  If this book was written by a black author, would the ending have been so hopeful?  Would the reality of Black Lives Matter intrude on the sentiment that bussing could change things?  We all thought that bussing really would change things.  It did, a bit, but not enough.

In my white-privileged haze, I think of these things and then I say,"I want fiction that gives me hope.  This book gives me hope.  Ergo, I like this book."  Done. And Done.

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