Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: April 17th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Police Brutality, History, Racism, Family, Friendship, Ghosts
Some authors write 400-page books and never manage to successfully convey their intended message to their readers. Jewell Parker Rhodes here wrote a 200-page story that brims with strength, power and importance.
I read it in a single sitting. That’s how well-written and captivating it was. I must have gotten goosebumps at least five times as I read about twelve-year-old Jerome’s life before and after death as well as the different reactions of his friends and family members.
It’s possible you’ve read stories about police brutality against people of colour before, but somehow I can assure you that you have not read anything like this before. It’s not simply that the concept is original—having the child who was shot by the police narrate his own story; it’s that there is a beautiful redemptive quality to this story.
Indeed, the girl of the police officer who murdered Jerome can see the latter and talk to him. This may not be realistic for you if you deny the existence of ghosts, but I never felt as though the author crossed the line leading to the fantasy genre. Besides, this is an essential aspect of the story because the young white girl, whose name is Sarah, listens to Jerome and tries to become a better human being without the prejudices that made her father end the life of a boy.
I can’t not give this book 5 whole stars because I don’t know what I would change about it, besides not have the police kill Jerome to begin with, so that he can grow up to be my age and experience the wonders of college. Like he deserved.
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