BOOKS

Ghost

192p. (Track: Bk. 1). S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481450157.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 5–9—Castle "Ghost" Crenshaw lives with his single mother; his father is serving time in prison after firing a gun at Ghost and his mom three years ago—and Ghost has been running ever since. While running one day, he stops to watch a track practice and decides to crash the race. Impressed, the coach offers him a position on the team. His mom reluctantly agrees to let him join as long as he can behave himself and stay out of trouble in school. This is a struggle for the impulsive Ghost, but with Coach's help, he learns the advantages of diligent practice and teamwork. Reynolds paints a realistic picture of a boy who needs the support of his community to channel his talent and energy. Supporting adult characters, like shop owner Mr. Charles and Coach, are positive, nuanced, and well-developed. The diverse team members are dealing with their own struggles, which will be explored in three future installments. The consequences for Ghost's misbehavior are somewhat inconsistent, but the detailed and informative descriptions of running and training with an elite track team more than make up for this.
VERDICT The focus on track athletics—a subject sorely lacking in the middle grade space—combined with the quality of Reynolds's characters and prose, makes this an essential purchase.

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