Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes. 186 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/ Little, Brown and Company, April 17, 2017. 9780316262286.
Publisher synopsis: A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.
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.
Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today's world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
First line(s): How small I look. Laid out flat, my stomach touching the ground. My right knee bent and my brand-new Nikes stained with blood.
Page 56: "Dad? Is it true he was twelve?"
Officer Moore holds Sarah at arm's length. "It's a rough neighborhood."
"Same age as me."
"You don't know him. You didn't see him."
Sarah looks at me. She does see me. We're the same height. Probably in the same grade. Seventh.
"He's-" She points, stops, stutters. "He was my height."
Her father blinks, like he doesn't recognize her. Like he can't believe she's contradicting him.
She plunges on, "You said he was big. Scary."
I was having dinner at the hotel bar last July when I went to the Scholastic Reading Summit in Virginia. Ms. Rhodes was the afternoon Keynote Speaker. When she sat down next to me to wait for friends she was meeting for dinner, I interrupted her solitude to say how much I enjoyed her address. We ended up chatting and she talked more about Ghost Boys. I put the title on my "to order" list.
I was supposed to attend the Little, Brown preview earlier this month and hoped that there would be arcs of Ghost Boys, but I was not able to attend and was sad about that because these previews are the highlight of my life. Imagine my surprise when John Leary, from Hachette, booktalked it (among other titles) at my local school librarians meeting yesterday after school! He had a variety of arcs, including Ghost Boys for the taking. Guess who made a beeline for Ghost Boys at the end?
I have three YA books that need to be read by October 28, but I put them on hold to dive into this.