“Don’t ever let someone call your life, your dreams, little. You hear me?”
I don’t mean to make a pun as this book is about running, but I raced through this book! Jason Reynolds is a fantastic author, and the voice and pacing in Ghost is excellent. You’ll read it and want to support Ghost through all of his ups and downs, even when he does the wrong thing, because his heart is truly in the right place.
Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons – until he meets Coach who sees something in him: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?
This little book packs a punch right from the get-go where you learn why Ghost is so focused on running. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’ll definitely make you gasp like I did when reading it on the train.
Ghost inspires the thought of never giving up on your dreams, despite your background. Ghost himself comes from a background of poverty; teased at school for not having the flashiest new shoes or the on-brand clothes, bullied for living on a poorer side of town, and with a father in jail he thinks his life doesn’t have much of a goal. When Coach Brody sees potential in him, the book shows Ghost’s blossoming potential and – most importantly – his belief in himself. Throughout the book, we are reminded that Ghost is not his past or his father, and characters like Coach and Mr Charles, the local shopkeeper, remind him of that constantly.
The tone of this book is excellent. Ghost is a really great character; he’s funny at times, serious in others, and I can definitely see young readers relating to him. I like that he’s very protective and proud of his mother, and his friendship with Mr Charles is so full of respect and admiration. I think that’s what made reading this book such a blast; Ghost is great, and is a character that I only wanted to see do well. My heart would break when he would mess up or do the wrong thing, despite wanting to think it was the right thing.
I want to add that it’s so refreshing to see more black protagonists in children’s and young adult books, both as main characters and part of the cast entirely. It’s about time that publishers listened to the fact that they are alienating an entire audience purely with the amount of books that are published by white authors, and with white characters. Although I read books as a child by white authors and books with a usually all-white cast, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t yearning for a book with someone that looked like me in it. Ghost can do that for many young black boys, and I hope to see more books like it in the near future.
Final thought: Running straight to the top with this one! 5/5