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Kids Fiction 1693
Unforgettable middle grade novel
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Jewell Parker Rhodes writes electrifying middle grade stories that pack emotion into every sentence, and GHOST BOYS showcases that skill at its best. The story follows Jerome, a 12-year-old Black boy shot by a police officer. The reader is led through both Jerome’s life (being bullied in school; meeting a new friend named Carlos; dreaming of what he might become in the future) and what is happening to him now that he’s dead. After his death, he meets Emmitt Till, another ghost boy murdered by white men in 1955. Jerome is also surprised to find that, as a ghost, the daughter of the cop who killed him can see him. Rhodes explores themes of racism, police brutality, bullying, new friendship, personal growth, and more in this short, powerful novel.

While Jerome is a unique individual, Rhodes shows through Emmitt Till and the other ghost boys that the circumstances of Jerome’s death were not unique and similar instances have been happening for decades. One of the most powerful messages in GHOST BOYS is that the living can, and must, do better. Sara, the cop’s daughter who can see Jerome, is an example of what change can look like. GHOST BOYS provides a safe space to explore these serious themes for young readers.

With sharp writing, quick chapters, and deep themes, GHOST BOYS is a great addition to contemporary middle grade collections.
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