×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Ghost
     

Ghost

5.0 1
by Jason Reynolds
 

See All Formats & Editions

A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly

Overview

A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Kate Messner
Ghost is funny, sharp and real…[His] transformation is slow and believable…it's easy to praise Reynolds's vivid depiction of life in Ghost's urban neighborhood as one that's challenging and full of warmth, relationships and hope. But this book's biggest strength is Ghost himself. Reynolds has created a character whose journey is so genuine that he's worthy of a place alongside Ramona and Joey Pigza on the bookshelves where our most beloved, imperfect characters live.
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/08/2016
Reynolds (As Brave As You) uses a light hand to delve into topics that include gun violence, class disparity, and bullying in this compelling series opener. Seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, nicknamed Ghost, knows nothing about track when a former Olympian recruits him as a sprinter for one of the city's youth teams. As far as Ghost is concerned, "whoever invented track got the whole gun means go thing right," something he learned firsthand when his father tried to shoot Ghost and his mother in their apartment three years prior. The trauma has had ripple effects on Ghost, including angry outbursts ("I was the boy.... with all the scream inside"), altercations at school, stealing, and lying. Joining the track team provides new friends, goals, and an opportunity for Ghost to move beyond his past. Ghost is a well-meaning, personable narrator whose intense struggles are balanced by a love of world records, sunflower seeds, and his mother. Coach's relationship with Ghost develops into a surrogate father-son scenario, adding substantial emotional resonance and humor to the mix. Ages 10–up. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Aug.)
9/1/16 - STARRED REVIEW Booklist
Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw has been running for three years, ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother. When he gets recruited by a local track coach for a championship team, they strike a deal: if Ghost can stop getting into fights at school, he can run for the Defenders, but one altercation and he’s gone. Despite Ghost's best intentions, everyone always has something to say about his raggedy shoes, homemade haircut, ratty clothes, or his neighborhood, and he doesn’t last 24 hours without a brawl. Will Coach and his mom give him another chance to be part of something bigger than himself, or is he simply destined to explode? With his second fantastic middle-grade novel of the year (As Brave as You, 2016), the ferociously talented Reynolds perfectly captures both the pain and earnest longing of a young boy. The first in the four-book Track series, this is raw and lyrical, and as funny as it is heartbreaking. It tackles issues such as theft, bullying, and domestic violence with candor and bravery while opening a door for empathy and discussion. An absolute must-read for anyone who has ever wondered how fast you must be to run away from yourself.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Is anyone else putting out so many stellar books so quickly? The author of The Boy in the Black Suit and All American Boys (both 2015) keeps dashing along. — Becca Worthington

9/6/16 - Shelf Awareness
Sometimes a whole life can change in one night. For seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, that night was three years ago when his father tried to shoot him and his mother, when "the liquor made him meaner than he'd ever been." That's when Castle started to call himself "Ghost," because Mr. Charles, who let the terrified pair take refuge in his all-night store, "looked at us like he was looking at two ghosts." And that was the night he learned how to run... really run.

Jason Reynolds (As Brave as You) has a playful, intimate and conversational style, and in Ghost, a middle-grade series debut, he tells the story of how an unforgettable flight of terror led to an African American boy's instinct to run--fast. One day on his walk home, Ghost sees a track team practicing with their short bald coach who looks like "a turtle with a chipped tooth." Keenly observant Ghost becomes annoyed with one of the runners others perceive as unbeatable, and decides to "keep up with him, if not beat him" even though he "ain't ever had a running lesson." He stubbornly persists until the coach relents: "Listen, you get one run, you hear me?"

The story of Ghost's evolving relationships with his anger, with his ever-worried mother, with Coach Brody and with running is a joy to read. For a boy who's "got a lot of scream inside," Ghost can riff entertainingly on topics from eating sunflower seeds to 100-meter sprints. Ghost is about kids who are, in both senses, running for their lives, and the generous souls who help them along the way.

Discover: In Jason Reynolds's excellent middle-grade novel, a boy learns to run when his father shoots a gun at him--and he never stops running.

October 2016 - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Castle Crenshaw discovered his fleet feet on the night his drunken father pulled a gun on his mother and him, and the pair took off running into the night. Now Dad is in jail, Mom is working too hard, but Castle’s getting by—or he would be if the likes of seventh-grade bully Brandon would just leave him alone. Hanging out on the park bleachers one afternoon, Castle, who insists on the nickname “Ghost,” watches a track team at their season opening practice, unimpressed. When he swaggers up to the starting line and shows the team hotshot that he’s really not all that, Ghost’s obvious talent catches Coach’s eye; after a quick meeting with Mom, he finds himself joining the Defenders, a city track team. Despite his speed, he’s a rank novice in terms of team playing, and his off-track conduct—fighting at school, stealing—isn’t all that great either, but Coach is merciful and doggedly insistent that Ghost can do better. A message-heavy scene in which the newbies bond over Chinese food and shared family secrets might play on tropes but successfully tugs at heartstrings. The final pages have Ghost lined up beside none other than the hated Brandon, but an ambiguous ending confirms that this is less about Ghost’s track success than his journey to self-worth. Readers (track stars or slowpokes) will find that the redemptive relationship among a supportive mom, a skillful coach who believes in second (and third) chances, and a determined young man comes through louder than the final “BOOM” of the starter gun.
November/December 2016 - Horn Book Magazine
When it comes to providing mirrors for contemporary African American teens, Reynolds (When I Was the Greatest, rev. 1/14; The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15) has proven himself to be an emerging leader. His latest offering is the first in
a projected series about four middle-school athletes and their efforts to better themselves, on and off the track. The first leg of this literary relay belongs to our title character. Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is a young man with a taste for sunflower seeds, Guinness World Records, and people watching; he also has a proclivity for getting into trouble, fighting, and running, stemming from the night his father (now in prison) pulled a gun on him and his mother. When Ghost happens upon the citywide track team, the Defenders, at practice and impulsively bests its fastest sprinter, the coach sees potential in the seventh grader. Ghost’s path to seeing the same potential in himself is littered with stumbling blocks, including a pair of expensive silver running shoes Ghost can’t afford but is convinced will help
him run faster. Reynolds has created a wonderfully dynamic character in Ghost; his first-person narrative is one with which young readers will readily identify. Conflicting emotions are presented honestly and without judgment—while Ghost works through the trauma of his father’s violent act, he is also able to hold on to positive memories. Reynolds’s introduction of the series characters—Ghost, Lu, Patina, and Sunny—will have readers rooting for the entire Defenders team.
Children's Literature - Patricia K. Landy
When Ghost’s drunken father tries to shoot him and his mother, he starts running. He runs from the situation and his inner frustrations, but eventually he runs into himself. Ghost is the coming of age story of a young African-American and the valuable lessons he learns as he leaps from one altercation to the next. Castle Cranshaw, who named himself Ghost, obsesses over the Guinness World Records. Because of this book, he is convinced that he can just walk off the street, onto a track, and become a star. It’s just that easy, and for him, track is not really a sport anyway. However, his notions are quickly dashed when Coach Brody enters his life. Coach, who was raised in the same struggling neighborhood, recognizes a talented, struggling teen when he sees one. Ghost has no track shoes, so he improvises by cutting off his high-top sneakers. Ridiculed at school for his looks, he resorts to desperate measures and steals a pair of silver running shoes. The “silver bullets” give him speed, but not enough to overcome his guilt. When Coach discovers the shoplifted shoes, he makes Ghost own up to his mistake. The consequences teach him to follow his conscience and do the right thing. In the end, he overcomes his struggles and runs into his first track competition and new life. Reynolds’s characters are truly endearing, including Ghost’s mother, who struggles but never gives up. Mr. Charles, the local grocer, is a constant, encouraging figure. However, it is Coach, however frustrated he becomes with Ghost and his altercations, who takes the young man under his wing and becomes a positive role model. Reviewer: Patricia K. Landy; Ages 10 up.
School Library Journal
12/01/2016
Gr 5–9—At school, Castle "Ghost" Crenshaw is taunted about where he lives and what he wears. He also has an anger management problem, but the kid can run, really run. Supported by a loving mother and a tough but caring track-and-field coach, Ghost learns a few lessons about life and teamwork while reminding readers of the potential in everyone. Nuanced characters facing real-life problems delivered with the author's irresistible warmth and humor.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-07-20
Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such. An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481450157
Publisher:
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication date:
08/30/2016
Series:
Track Series , #1
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
288
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Ghost

1

WORLD RECORDS


CHECK THIS OUT. This dude named Andrew Dahl holds the world record for blowing up the most balloons . . . with his nose. Yeah. That’s true. Not sure how he found out that was some kinda special talent, and I can’t even imagine how much snot be in those balloons, but hey, it’s a thing and Andrew’s the best at it. There’s also this lady named Charlotte Lee who holds the record for owning the most rubber ducks. No lie. Here’s what’s weird about that: Why would you even want one rubber duck, let alone 5,631? I mean, come on. And me, well, I probably hold the world record for knowing about the most world records. That, and for eating the most sunflower seeds.

“Let me guess, sunflower seeds,” Mr. Charles practically shouts from behind the counter of what he calls his “country store,” even though we live in a city. Mr. Charles, who, by the way, looks just like James Brown if James Brown were white, has been ringing me up for sunflower seeds five days a week for about, let me think . . . since the fourth grade, which is when Ma took the hospital job. So for about three years now. He’s also hard of hearing, which when my mom used to say this, I always thought she was saying “harder hearing,” which made no sense at all to me. I don’t know why she just didn’t say “almost deaf.” Maybe because “hard of hearing” is more like hospital talk, which was probably rubbing off on her. But, yeah, Mr. Charles can barely hear a thing, which is why he’s always yelling at everybody and everybody’s always yelling at him. His store is a straight-up scream fest, not to mention the extra sound effects from the loud TV he keeps behind the counter—cowboy movies on repeat. Mr. Charles is also the guy who gave me this book, Guinness World Records, which is where I found out about Andrew Dahl and Charlotte Lee. He tells me I can set a record one day. A real record. Be one of the world’s greatest somethings. Maybe. But I know one thing, Mr. Charles has to hold the record for saying, Let me guess, sunflower seeds, because he says that every single time I come in, which means I probably also already hold the record for responding, loudly, the exact same way.

“Lemme guess, one dollar.” That’s my comeback. Said it a gazillion times. Then I slap a buck in the palm of his wrinkly hand, and he puts the bag of seeds in mine.

After that, I continue on my slow-motion journey, pausing again only when I get to the bus stop. But this bus stop ain’t just any bus stop. It’s the one that’s directly across the street from the gym. I just sit there with the other people waiting for the bus, except I’m never actually waiting for it. The bus gets you home fast, and I don’t want that. I just go there to look at the people working out. See, the gym across the street has this big window—like the whole wall is a window—and they have those machines that make you feel like you walking up steps and so everybody just be facing the bus stop, looking all crazy like they’re about to pass out. And trust me, there ain’t nothing funnier than that. So I check that out for a little while like it’s some kind of movie: The About to Pass Out Show, starring stair-stepper person one through ten. I know this all probably sounds kinda weird, maybe even creepy, but it’s something to do when you’re bored. Best part about sitting there is tearing into my sunflower seeds like they’re theater popcorn.

About the sunflower seeds. I used to just put a whole bunch of them in my mouth at the same time, suck all the salt off, then spit them all out machine-gun-style. I could’ve probably set a world record in that, too. But now, I’ve matured. Now I take my time, moving them around, positioning them for the perfect bite to pop open the shell, then carefully separating the seed from it with my tongue, then—and this is the hard part—keeping the little seed safe in the space between my teeth and tongue, I spit the shells out. And finally, after all that, I chew the seed up. I’m like a master at it, even though, honestly, sunflower seeds don’t taste like nothing. I’m not even sure they’re really worth all the hassle. But I like the process anyway.

My dad used to eat sunflower seeds too. That’s where I get it from. But he used to chew the whole thing up. The shells, the seeds, everything. Just devour them like some kind of beast. When I was really young, I used to ask him if a sunflower was going to grow inside of him since he ate the seeds so much. He was always watching some kind of game, like football or basketball, and he’d turn to me just for a second, just long enough to not miss a play, and say, “Sunflowers are all up in me, kid.” Then he’d shake up the seeds in his palm like dice, before throwing another bunch in his grill to chomp down on.

But let me tell you, my dad was lying. Wasn’t no sunflowers growing in him. Couldn’t have been. I don’t know a whole lot about sunflowers, but I know they’re pretty and girls like them, and I know the word sunflower is made up of two good words, and that man ain’t got two good words in him, or anything that any girl would like, because girls don’t like men who try to shoot them and their son. And that’s the kind of man he was.

It was three years ago when my dad lost it. When the liquor made him meaner than he’d ever been. Every other night he would become a different person, like he’d morph into someone crazy, but this one night my mother decided to finally fight back. This one night everything went worse. I had my head sandwiched between the mattress and my pillow, something I got used to doing whenever they were going at it, when my mom crashed into my bedroom.

“We gotta go,” she said, yanking the covers off the bed. And when I didn’t move fast enough, she yelled, “Come on!”

Next thing I knew, she was dragging me down the hallway, my feet tripping over themselves. And that’s when I looked back and saw him, my dad, staggering from the bedroom, his lips bloody, a pistol in his hand.

“Don’t make me do this, Terri!” he angry-begged, but me and my mom kept rolling. The sound of the gun cocking. The sound of the door unlocking. As soon as she swung the door open, my dad fired a shot. He was shooting at us! My dad! My dad was actually shooting . . . at . . . US! His wife and his boy! I didn’t look to see what he hit, mainly because I was scared it was gonna be me. Or Ma. The sound was big, and sharp enough to make me feel like my brain was gonna pop in my head, enough to make my heart hiccup. But the craziest thing was, I felt like the shot—loudest sound I ever heard—made my legs move even faster. I don’t know if that’s possible, but that’s definitely what it seemed like.

My mom and I kept running, down the staircase into the street, breaking into the darkness with death chasing behind us. We ran and ran and ran, until finally we came up on Mr. Charles’s store, which, luckily for us, stays open 24/7. Mr. Charles took one look at me and my mom, out of breath, crying, barefoot in our pajamas, and hid us in his storage room while he called the cops. We stayed there all night.

I haven’t seen my dad since. Ma said the cops said that when they got to the house, he was sitting outside on the steps, shirtless, with the pistol beside him, guzzling beer, eating sunflower seeds, waiting. Like he wanted to get caught. Like it was no big deal. They gave him ten years in prison, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’m happy about that or not. Sometimes, I wish he would’ve gotten forever in jail. Other times, I wish he was home on the couch, watching the game, shaking seeds in his hand. Either way, one thing is for sure: that was the night I learned how to run. So when I was done sitting at the bus stop in front of the gym, and came across all those kids on the track at the park, practicing, I had to go see what was going on, because running ain’t nothing I ever had to practice. It’s just something I knew how to do.

Meet the Author

Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories. He is the author of critically acclaimed When I Was the Greatest, for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor books Boy in the Black Suit and All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely, also the winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award); As Brave As You, his stunning middle grade debut that was a Time Book of the Year and winner of the Kirkus Award; and Ghost, the first book in his middle grade Track series, which was also a National Book Award finalist. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Ghost 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous 12 days ago
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!! but i kinda wanted it to be longer or have a second one. THANKS SO MUCH MR REYNOLDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!