Apartment 1986

272p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062371089. POP
Gr 5–8—Seventh grader Callie faces many struggles: a recently unemployed father, a bullied younger brother, a rift with an old friend, a failing grade in history, and an expensive concert ticket for which she is expected to pay. Despite all this, Callie works to stay upbeat. One morning she goes to her grandmother's apartment, where she discovers magazines from 1986. Callie skips a day at her elite New York City prep school and goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she meets Cassius, a young unschooled boy who she later learns has Best disease. As Callie continues to skip school for the next three days, she becomes aware of old family conflicts and prejudices, which her grandmother avoids discussing by spending time with a neighbor who collects memorabilia from the 1980s and lives in apartment 1986. The events of the week culminate when Callie must choose between taking placement tests for her school and answering a call for help from Cassius. Papademetriou's latest title is about doing the right thing and deciding what is most important in the face of being torn between two loved ones. She also touches on issues of homophobia, bullying, financial turmoil, and pressure to excel academically. Since Callie does have a problem with lying, she is not always a reliable narrator. While initially not every story line seems interconnected and at times the plot is busy, everything ties together in the end to portray satisfying but authentic character growth. Callie realizes that although being positive is important, not everything in life can be fixed.
VERDICT A general purchase for most middle grade collections, especially where realistic, character-driven tales or novels featuring New York City are popular.

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