Review Blog

May 28 2018

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Orion Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781510104396
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that's been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.
Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father's actions.
Wow! Wow! Wow! This is possibly the best book I have read this year. Rhodes has done a fantastic job of evoking emotions of hate, compassion, love and empathy all rolled into one. She has tackled the issues of race discrimination in the USA towards African-American youth, particularly boys in an unusual way - changing the perspectives the book is written from. Throughout the book it interchanges between Jerome telling his story while he was alive and also his viewpoint when he is a ghost. With such strong themes including racism and violence, I would recommend this book for children aged 12 and up. This would make a fantastic read aloud and create a mountain of discussion. A must have for the collection!
Kathryn Schumacher

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