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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature. Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel in a new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds. Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun…


by Jason Reynolds

Overall Book Review:

Thirteen year old Ghost, as he likes to be called, has been dealt a rough hand when it comes to his life. With his father in jail for shooting at him and his mom, they are barely making ends meet. Ghost gave himself that nickname because he always seemed to be on the run–from his dad, from the school bully, and from himself, his anger and his life. Running, however, is what led him to Coach, a man who becomes a positive male role model for Ghost and who found himself running when he was a teenager as well. Being part of something like the running club and having someone believe in him finally gives Ghost something to run towards. However, Ghost finds sometimes it’s harder than one might think to put your past behind you.

As Ghost learns to trust Coach, he also learns some valuable life lessons. As he learns to let others be a part of his life, he learns to be less angry with the world. As he learns that choices have consequences, he learns to make better ones. As Ghost learns to focus on running towards something instead of from things, his life doesn’t seem so bad, despite the fact that he can’t change much of it.

Ghost, a novel by Jason Reynolds, shows readers the importance of believing in yourself and having someone there to support you. It is a ‘real feeling’ novel that will be relatable to any reader that feels their circumstances are stacked against them or that they are angry with the hand they have been dealt.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation.

Violence/Gore:  Account told of man having tried to shoot at his son and wife, no injuries (1-page account); school bully pushes character in line and throws food at him; character hits someone in the head with lunch tray; character starts punching person; character tells how his father was an addict and would get violent when he was high and ends up overdosing and dying. 

Sex/Nudity:  Secondhand account of boy having kissed a girl.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, domestic violence, stealing.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Mention of liquor making someone mean; mention of man guzzling beer; mention of someone being called ‘Dope Man’ because he sells drugs; story told of someone’s father getting high.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I remember as a young girl sneaking out of my bedroom to read by the hall light my parents left on, just so I could finish an exciting book. I’ve always loved books and reading is somewhat of a passion for me–something I’m passing on to my kids. I have four children and I have a hard time making them turn out the light when they say, “But I just got to the good part”.