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.
This book was written like no other middle grade reader I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! I read and review MG books to stay on top of the latest recommendations for my students. This one will go to the top of my list!
This was a delicately told story that managed to tell each perspective in an honest, raw, and chilling important way. She made me feel like Jerome’s story was at the forefront of a very controversial issue but because he was able to tell his story after death, the reader was also able to see this story through the experience of the police officer’s daughter, Emmitt Till, teenager from the 50’s killed by a police officer, and Carlos the boy who Jerome befriended before he died that gave him the toy gun that ultimately led to his fate.
Rhodes was able to create these very real characters to tell so many important stories that middle grade readers will sympathize with and relate to. I am excited to put this book in the hands of many kids!
Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of five books for children: the New York Times bestseller and #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick Ghost Boys, Towers Falling, and the Louisiana Girls trilogy, which includes Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic. The Louisiana Girls books have received the Parents’ Choice Foundation Award, the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, and the Jane Addam’s Children’s Book Award, among others. Towers Falling is a Junior Library Guild Selection, an Amazon’s Best Book of the Month, and an ADL Best Kid Lit on Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice selection. Ghost Boys was named the NAIBA Book of the Year, a Project LIT Book Club Selection, and one of Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of the Year So Far.
Jewell is also the author of six adult novels: Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, and Hurricane, as well as the memoir Porch Stories: A Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness, and two writing guides, Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction. Her adult literary awards include the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, and the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing.
Jewell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Criticism, a Master of Arts in English, and a Doctor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) from Carnegie Mellon University. Jewell is the Founding Artistic Director and Piper Endowed Chair at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She currently lives in San Jose.
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