Monday, February 20, 2017


Not sure exactly what to say about this book.

I loved it.

I borrowed it from the library and now I need to go buy my own copy, or maybe 5 copies, so I can pass it to every kid I know.

Middle schooler Castle Crenshaw, a.k.a. Ghost, has spent his entire life running. His earliest memory goes back to the night he and his mother ran down the street as his father chased them, waving a shot gun. He's spent pretty much the rest of his life trying to forget that incident. But the trauma has shaped him. Hugely.

Castle happens upon the Defenders, an elite middle school track team. An informal encounter with one of their best sprinters leads to an invitation from the coach and Castle finds himself on the team. He doesn't have track shoes, though, and makes the unfortunate decision to steal them from a local sporting goods store.

Ghost is real and it's gritty. But it's not all dark. The main characters are middle schoolers. Middle schoolers are funny. A lot of the time. And Reynolds' characters definitely fit into that mold. Castle reads Guiness record type books and random facts are scattered throughout the book. I know kids are going to love those too.

Jason Reynolds gets urban kids. Gets my boys. Gets the kids I teach.

I wish I had had this book to hand to my own, African American, fatherless, track-running sons about ten years ago. Castle is my boys. Coach is the men who worked with them, practice after practice after practice. Decision after decision after decision. Year after year after year.

Get this book. Now.

Oh, and did I mention it's the first in a series and the next one comes out next fall.

The book won the CYBILS intermediate grade fiction category last week.

Here's a link to the New York Times review (written by another favorite author, Kate Messner).

Here's a link to a National Book Foundation interview.

1 comment:

Ramona said...

I read it over the holidays and loved it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this incredible book.