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Bang! A gun shot. In the blink of an eye, a boy fell to the ground. In the book “Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, black boy Jerome Rogers felt his spirit fading and rising up high in the clear, blue sky…
Twelve-year-old Jerome Rogers stared at his family and friends, who were miserably huddled around his once alive body in despair, as if they didn’t want to believe Jerome had died. After he accepted the fact that he died, Jerome painfully watched his family day and night grieving and complaining about how unfair it was that black boys were incessantly killed by white people.
One day, Jerome met another ghost, Emmett Till, who was a black boy also killed by white men a long time ago. Their encounter allowed Jerome to realize the lack of injustice in their society. His afterlife was no longer lonely, as he was able to freely talk about his thoughts to Emmett. Another person he could communicate with was Sarah, the only living person who could see and hear him, and happened to be the daughter of the police officer responsible for his death.
Every day, Jerome went to the court to listen to the argument of his death and black people’s rights between his family and the police officer. Since each day the similar events occurred, Jerome began to adjust to this kind of life and his grief was fading. Yet, after he was introduced by Emmett to hundreds of black boy ghosts who had their life ended the same way as himself, Jerome’s heart was shattered into a million pieces. He was determined to do whatever in his power to prevent tragedies of this kind to happen again.
The book shows racism hurts and such history should never repeat itself. On the surface, this is one boy’s story. Yet, he represents a collective voice calling for equity and social justice. This is a heart-moving and thought-provoking story, leaving us with powerful messages about bullying, racism, and gun violence.
“Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 224 pp.
Age Range: 9-12 years
Grade Level: 5 and up