Ghost, by Jason Reynolds

GhostCastle Cranshaw runs so fast that his nickname is Ghost—now you see him, now you don’t. Castle found out just how fast he could run the night his drunken father tried to shoot him and his mother. His dad’s in jail for ten years now, but Castle isn’t sure that’s long enough. His mom works long hours at the hospital, bringing home cafeteria food for their dinner, and the bully at school taunts him about all of these things every day, which causes Ghost to rack up quite a few “infractions” with the principal.

Other than serving out suspensions and chewing sunflower seeds, Castle’s life is pretty aimless. He’s always set his sights on basketball fame, and had never heard of running track before, but one day he stumbles upon the try-outs for a community team, and he’s in.

Reynolds paints a picture of a good kid whose life squeezes him into agonizing choices, some terribly wrong. Most of the adults in this slender, middle-grade novel are big-hearted people who work hard and do their best for the kids in their lives. Running doesn’t magically change Castle’s life, but it gives him goals and a new circle of friends who are all learning discipline, focus, and teamwork.

Jason Reynolds says on his website that his goal is to “not write boring books.” Success! He writes lots of great books! I’ve reviewed his more nostalgic novel, As Brave As You, earlier. This contemporary, urban story offers an appealing protagonist, a diverse cast of characters, real-world consequences, and hope. Recommended.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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