Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a realistic juvenile fiction novel.
Jerome is a twelve-year-old boy. He’s also dead. On his way home from school one day he was shot by a police officer who made the mistake of thinking a toy gun was real. Now Jerome’s community is roiling… everyone is either sad or hungry for justice. But Jerome is still dead.
As a ghost, Jerome meets another ghost from another time called: Emmett Till. He also meets Sarah, a living girl and the daughter of the officer who shot him. Emmett, Sarah and Jerome each have something to teach the other and together they will to “understand American blackness in the aftermath of” tragedy.
Rhodes always takes on serious topics and she does so in such a way that is poignant and without fluff. From the moment you open this book themes of racism, prejudices, poverty and more are right in your face. Nothing is hidden and she doesn’t shy away from horrible truths.
This is a book you want to read with your kids, so that you can navigate the themes together. It will be a hard read for sensitive readers but it also opens up avenues of discussion and awareness. The story isn’t gory but the violence happens and the readers witness it happening.
This one will span grades depending on maturity level and how soon the caregivers want to introduce it. Amazon says 4-8 grade and content-wise, I think that is about right. The writing itself is at a 4-6 grade level.
This one gets five stars from me.
That’s all for now!