Reading About Race: “Ghost”

As part of Third Church’s continuing anti-racism efforts, the Adult Spiritual Formation Committee will be sharing book reviews on books about race and/or by BIPOC authors. If you have read a book that has opened new perspectives to you, and that you would be willing to write a brief review of, please contact Becky D’Angelo-Veitch.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Reviewed by Jenny Bay

How fast do you need to run to get away from the scary parts of your life? Castle Cranshaw has given himself the nickname “Ghost” because of his running ability.  Ghost lives in a poor neighborhood with his mom, who works in a hospital cafeteria while earning a nursing degree at night. His father is in jail because he tried to shoot Ghost and his mother.  A struggling 7th grader, Ghost has a difficult time keeping his temper and emotions in control.  Running is an outlet for him.  His talent earns him a spot on an elite track team where he makes friends while learning how to deal with the challenges in his life.  

As a school librarian, I can say that this book is loved by middle grade readers.  Ghost is an exciting and realistic story that is at times funny and at other times is tragic.  Ghost is a flawed character; readers like him but cringe at his bad choices and cheer as he grows during the story. This the first in the Track  series , followed by Patina, Sunny and LuGhost by Jason Reynolds was a 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature. The author, Jason Reynolds,  is the 2020-21 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature  and has won multiple awards for this and other works.  He is also the author of the adaptation Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.

Jason Reynolds has made a career of writing books that speak to and for black youth. As our city and our country face the challenge of eradicating systemic racism, Ghost will help you to see the world through the windows of the children who are most vulnerable.  I challenge you to look in the mirror to see Ghost.

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”

Rudine Sims Bishop