May 23, 2018

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Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes | SLJ Review

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redstarRHODES, Jewell Parker. Ghost Boys. 186p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316262286.

Gr 4-8 –The Towers Falling author once again tackles a timely yet difficult subject. In Chicago, 12-year-old black youth Jerome is shot and killed by a white police officer who mistakes a toy gun for a real one. As a ghost, Jerome witnesses the aftermath gripping both his family and that of the police officers. Jerome also meets another ghost—that of Emmett Till, a black boy murdered in 1955. Through Till’s story, he learns of the hundreds of other “ghost boys” left to roam and stop history from continually repeating itself. The only person who can see Jerome is the daughter of the white police officer, Sarah, and through her eyes, he realizes that his family isn’t the only one affected by the tragedy. Two families are destroyed with one split decision, and Sarah and Jerome together try to heal both of their families, along with Jerome’s friend Carlos. It was Carlos’ toy gun that Jerome was playing with, leaving Carlos with great guilt and the intense desire to protect Jerome’s little sister, Kim, from bullies and other sorrows. Deftly woven and poignantly told, this a story about society, biases both conscious and unconscious, and trying to right the wrongs of the world. VERDICT Rhodes captures the all-too-real pain of racial injustice and provides an important window for readers who are just beginning to explore the ideas of privilege and implicit bias.–Michele Shaw, Quail Run ­Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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Comments

  1. I’m thrilled to see Jewell Parker Rhodes taking on this painful yet necessary topic for our students. Tough issues demand great works of creative imagination, and I’ve come to count on Jewell to leave readers with a serious dose of challenge…and hope. I’ll be blogging this one-and hosting the author in our library-just as soon as I can!

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