Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  Castle Crenshaw learned to run fast the night his dad got drunk and fired a gun at him and his mom.  They ran fast enough to get away, and his father went to jail.  That was three years ago, but Castle hasn’t gotten over it.  He doesn’t like to go home after school to an empty house.  He refuses to sleep in his bedroom, opting instead for a pile of blankets on the living room floor, while his mom dozes on the couch. And he has a lot of anger inside that sometimes pushes him to do things he later regrets.  When he stumbles upon a middle school track practice and ends up beating one of the fastest sprinters, his life begins to change.  He gets a place on the team, a new nickname, “Ghost”, and a coach who grew up in the same neighborhood Castle did and understands his anger.  It’s one step back for every two steps forward Castle takes, but by the last chapter, it looks like Ghost has found his place on the team.  192 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  Castle’s voice tells his story in a strong voice with plenty of humor and wry insights into his situation.  Sports fans will love this, but so will anyone who enjoys rooting for a likeable underdog.  A National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature, and, in my opinion, a strong contender for the Newbery committee to consider.

Cons:  The last page…nooo!  The sequel can’t come out soon enough.

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