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Review of Ghost

reynolds_ghostGhost [Track]
by Jason Reynolds
Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    181 pp.
8/16    978-1-4814-5015-7    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5017-1    $10.99

When it comes to providing mirrors for contemporary African American teens, Reynolds (When I Was the Greatest, rev. 1/14; The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15) has proven himself to be an emerging leader. His latest offering is the first in a projected series about four middle-school athletes and their efforts to better themselves, on and off the track. The first leg of this literary relay belongs to our title character. Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is a young man with a taste for sunflower seeds, Guinness World Records, and people-watching; he also has a proclivity for getting into trouble, fighting, and running, stemming from the night his father (now in prison) pulled a gun on him and his mother. When Ghost happens upon the citywide track team, the Defenders, at practice and impulsively bests its fastest sprinter, the coach sees potential in the seventh grader. Ghost’s path to seeing the same potential in himself is littered with stumbling blocks, including a pair of expensive silver running shoes Ghost can’t afford but is convinced will help him run faster. Reynolds has created a wonderfully dynamic character in Ghost; his first-person narrative is one with which young readers will readily identify. Conflicting emotions are presented honestly and without judgment — while Ghost works through the trauma of his father’s violent act, he is also able to hold on to positive memories. Reynolds’s introduction of the series characters — Ghost, Lu, Patina, and Sunny — will have readers rooting for the entire Defenders team.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Eboni Njoku

Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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