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Review: Ghost Boys

Updated: May 19

3/5 stars

TW: gun violence, fatal police brutality, mention of lynching

This is a middle-grade book (ages 8-12), which isn't a reading level I get into very often. It's a short, easy read, of course, but tackles some big issues, including racial bias, classism, bullying, and gun violence. In particular, the book focuses almost entirely on black children who have been murdered by police officers.

Jerome is a 12 year old black boy, shot and killed by a white police officer while playing with a toy gun. The book is narrated by Jerome, and alternates between his story before he was murdered, and what he sees and does in the afterlife. As a ghost, he is able to watch over his family and friends, and to communicate with other "ghost boys" like him, including Emmett Till. He can also communicate with the daughter of the police officer who shot him - she can see him and talk to him, and their relationship helps them both understand what happened better.

The writing - characters, plot, descriptions - are black & white (forgive the wording!), pretenseless in the way you have to be to talk about hard subjects with pre-teens. Would be a great book to have in elementary & middle schools (though of course it is banned in some states).


UP NEXT: Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xóchitl González

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