#1092 – GHOST by Jason Reynolds

ghosst-track-book-1 Ghost
Series: Track, Book #1
Written by Jason Reynolds
A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book/Antheneum BYR  8/30/2016
978-1-4814-5015-7
186 pages   Ages 12+

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RUNNING. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Crenshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race—and wins—the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he tries to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with his team, or will his past finally catch up to him?” [INSIDE JACKET]

Review
[WC 513]
How does a kid who spends more time in detention than most, easily pops off, and is pretty much a loner outside of school, make an elite track team?

Castle doesn’t understand track and thinks Coach is lying when he tells his team if they keep running they could get into an elite high school and even attend college, all expenses paid. Nobody goes to college free by running. Running is running—everyone can run! So when the sprinter—“the one to beat”—lines up for the 100-yard dash, Castle stands next to the kid—in the grass—ready to show him he’s fast, but “he ain’t that fast.” Can Castle beat the elite sprinter or is he just a cocky kid with a chip on his shoulder?

Castle, a dark-skinned kid from the wrong side of town, boils over with anger, grief, and shame. When your own father shoots at you, all those feelings toss about in your head. Castle is traumatized and understands “all the scream [is] inside.” Reynolds understands Castle, portraying a kid damaged enough to mess him up, yet redeemable and likable. Castle’s internal anger at his dad, his mom, and his self keeps him at the edge of his emotions. The Defenders become Castle’s therapy. The other kids accept him as he is, believes he can be a record-making sprinter if he wants to become one, and keeps Castle grounded. Coach is the lead therapist. Of course, no one thinks in these terms. All act naturally based on their own personality. Castle, now Ghost on the track, has found a home with people he can trust, including the adult coach.

Ghost is a sports story filled with relatable characters. Ghost is also a drama told from Castle’s point of view, with sports as a backdrop to his struggles in the aftermath of losing a father. Ghost is easy to understand, yet complex enough to drive the story and keep kids reading. Reluctant readers will find the story entertaining and easy to stick with, thanks to short chapters and relatively easy text.

Jason Reynolds knows how to write for middle graders. He has their slang, their swagger, and their stance. Belonging, somewhere, is important. Despite what he may say, Castle needs to belong. Ghost is a good read. Kids, especially boys, will love Ghost. The “Hey, what happens? Who won?” lingers long after the last page is turned. Ghost kept me glued to the pages. Granted, it is a relatively short book, only 186 pages, and it could have been longer—Jason you stopped writing at the gun’s “go.” Who won?! (Ahhh!)

Ghost is one of the best middle grade books thus far this year. The series will entertain both boys and girls. The ending is insane*, but satisfying. Reynolds has a knack for hooking readers. With believable, likable, and relatable characters, Ghost should find its audience quickly.

Ghost is a new middle grade trilogy called Track; a fast-paced, fun, and insightful story. But Jason Reynolds left me hanging at the gun. Waiting for the release of Book 2 has kept me on the edge of my seat.

*”insane” here means wonderful, wacky, great, good, intense . . . insane!

GHOST (TRACK, BOOK 1). Text copyright © 2016 by Jason Reynolds. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book/Antheneum Books for Young Readers (imprint of Simon & Schuster), New York, NY.

AmazonIndie BooksApple BooksSimon & Schuster  (available as an audio book)

Add Ghost (Track, book 1) to Your Goodreads Shelf HERE.
A Group Reading Guide is HERE.
Read an Excerpt HERE  (scroll down).

AWARDS
Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best
NCTE Charlotte Huck Outstanding Fiction Award
A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
Texas Lone Star Reading List

cybils-logo-2016-round-lg.

2016 Cybils Award for Middle Grade Fiction

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Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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Ghost
Series: Track, Book 1
Written by Jason Reynolds
A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book/Antheneum BYR 8/30/2016
9781481450157

 

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