Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday (arc review): Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes. 224 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 17, 2018. 9780316262286.

The cover on the right is the cover on my arc. The cover on the left looks to be the finished cover. I think both covers are powerful but the red one does pack a wallop.

I'll put this out there right now - no library collection is complete if it is missing any of Ms. Rhodes' books. She is a masterful middle grade writer whose superpower is making tough subjects accessible to tender young readers. 

Twelve-year-old Jerome is the narrator of this timely yet heartbreaking tale. We meet him as he realizes he is dead and views his own dead body bleeding onto the playground dirt. A white police officer has mistaken his toy gun for a real gun and fatally shot him. 

Jerome isn't even allowed to play with guns but his new friend, Carlos gave it to him to play with. He witnesses his family's grief and his father's anger and wants to comfort them. He realizes, with a start that his grandmother is aware of his presence but unable to see him. No one can see him until he crosses paths with the daughter of his shooter. Why is it she can see him when no one he cares about can? Jerome isn't alone in this limbo, he is soon joined by another victim of a racial killing - Emmett Till.

As Jerome tries to navigate this new reality, he confronts hard truths and feels myriad emotions from sadness to anger. Through Jerome, thoughtful readers might come to reflect on their own biases as well as society's and work toward overcoming them.

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