“Only living can make the world better. Live and make it better.”
Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.
Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.
Throughout this story, Jerome witnesses how his death affects his family and others around him. As a ghost boy, it is his duty to try to let the dead speak and help the living learn from both the past and the present.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a title that introduces difficult topics in a manner suitable for middle grade audiences. Recommended for readers in grades 5+