Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
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.
"Ghost, a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. He must stay on track, literally and figuratively, to reach his full potential"-- Provided by publisher.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Kirkus Book Review
Castle Ghost Cranshaw feels like hes been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his momand used it.His dads 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, hes 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 doesnt have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly lightand his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghosts 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 Ghosts world are described as such. An endearing protagonist runsnbsp;the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promisingnbsp;relay. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
New York Times Book Review
CASTLE CRENSHAW, or Ghost, as he has nicknamed himself, begins his story by telling about the man who holds the world record for blowing up balloons with his nose. Ghost is funny, sharp and real, spitting out sunflower seeds along with world-records trivia as he watches a track team practice at the local park. Like many Guinness-obsessed kids, Ghost dreams of being the best at something too. But five pages into "Ghost," Jason Reynolds's new middle-grade novel, Ghost's stream-of-consciousness narrative drifts into the secret that has taken over his life : the story of the day he learned how fast he can run, fleeing his apartment with his mother as his father shot at them. The revelation will hit many readers hard, but Ghost tells it in the same matter-of-fact tone he uses to talk about sunflower seeds or the kids he sees working on running - which perplexes him because running was never anything he had to practice. Ghost is cynical, dragged down by the weight of his past. When he hears Coach telling his elite track team, the Defenders, that running could lead to a college scholarship, Ghost talks back in his head. "Don't nobody go to college for free to run no races." But when the cocky sprinter Lu gets ready to run, Ghost lines up along-side, nearly beating him, and Coach offers a life-changing invitation to join the team. Ghost's transformation is slow and believable. At first, he lacks the gear and the tenacity to perform well. At night, Ghost sleeps near the door, in case he and his mom have to run again. At school, he gets in trouble and struggles to contain his fear and anger. As Ghost puts it, "I got a lot of scream inside." Over time, training produces results. Anyone who's felt gravel crunch under their spikes will recognize Coach's workouts - the exhausting fartleks and distance runs, the competitive banter. Athletes understand that one step forward is often followed by two steps back, and Ghost's emotional strength comes around more slowly than his speed. Frustrated by practicing in old high-tops, he shoplifts a pair of high-end running shoes. But the silver bullets, as Ghost calls them, put more weight on his spirit than they take off his feet. Ghost's developing relationship with the runners in his life ultimately propels him forward. He learns that Coach, too, grew up with an addict. Recognizing the connection, Coach tells his new runner, "Trouble is, you can't run away from yourself. ... Ain't nobody that fast." Though this novel belongs to Ghost, his teammates are fully realized characters with dreams, histories, gifts and imperfections of their own. The girls are never pushed to the side. Patina, especially, not only shines on the track but asserts herself in Coach's car one day, refusing to give up her shotgun seat so the boys won't be crowded in back. Readers who connect with these other runners will be thrilled to know that "Ghost" is the first in a promised series from Reynolds, each featuring a different narrator from the Defenders. As for "Ghost," 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. KATE MESSNER is the author of "The Seventh Wish," the Ranger in Time series and other books for young readers.