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Ghost Boys

Review

Ghost Boys

In GHOST BOYS, 12-year-old Jerome Barnes is murdered by a white police office for the simple crime of existing as an African American in a country bolstered by its racism. What marks the tragic ending of a young boy's life also acts as the start of Jewell Parker Rhodes's painfully timely and beautifully written book, GHOST BOYS.

Following the tragic act at the heart of the book, readers follow Jerome as a ghost. From his omniscient viewpoint, we see the devastation his murder has brought to his family and community. But that's not all --- Jerome also meets another ghost, that of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was also murdered. It is at this point that Jerome learns that he is part of a brotherhood of ghost boys who are forced to wander the world looking for people who will see and hear them.

"I could rave about Jewell Parker Rhodes for days, but I will talk about GHOST BOYS for the rest of my life."

In search of his own witness, Jerome meets Sarah. Sarah is the white police officer's daughter, and she, too, is dealing with the fallout of Jerome's murder. Although this may sound like an incredibly painful twist, Sarah comes to represent the future with her empathy and willingness to hear Jerome's side of things. Speaking to Sarah, Jerome sees the trial and his family's grief, but also that tragedies like his are preventable --- if only we are willing to have compassion for people who are not like us.

Like all of Rhodes's books, GHOST BOYS should absolutely be required reading. It is definitely necessary to write about such timely issues as police brutality, but few can do so with Rhodes's compassion, hope and attention to her characters' motivations and fears. The relationship between Jerome and Sarah absolutely leaps off the page and is sure to leave older readers in tears.

I could rave about Jewell Parker Rhodes for days, but I will talk about GHOST BOYS for the rest of my life. This is a book that will directly influence our children's future, and I could not be more grateful to Rhodes for sharing Jerome's story.

Reviewed by Audrey Slater on April 24, 2018

Ghost Boys
by Jewell Parker Rhodes