Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ghetto Cowboy” as Want to Read:
Ghetto Cowboy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ghetto Cowboy

(Ghetto Cowboy #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,839 ratings  ·  423 reviews
A street-smart tale about a displaced teen who learns to defend what's right-the Cowboy Way.

Twelve-year-old Cole's behavior causes his mother to drive him from Detroit to Philadelphia to live with a father he has never known, but who soon has Cole involved with a group of African-American "cowboys" who rescue horses and use them to steer youths away from drugs and gangs.
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Candlewick Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ghetto Cowboy, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Darrell McCauley You need to consider both father and son, who are named after a poet and a jazz musician, respectively. Michael Harper wrote a poem about jazz musicia…moreYou need to consider both father and son, who are named after a poet and a jazz musician, respectively. Michael Harper wrote a poem about jazz musician John Coltrane. The poem is titled, "Dear John, Dear Coltrane."(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,839 ratings  ·  423 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ghetto Cowboy
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fun Fact: Parents these days speak in code. As a New York children’s librarian I had to learn this the hard way. Let’s say they want a folktale about a girl outwitting a witch. I pull out something like McKissack's Precious and the Boo Hag and proudly hand it to them. When I do, the parent scrunches up their nose and I think to myself, “Uh-oh.” Then they say it. “Yeah, um . . . we were looking for something a little less . . . urban.” Never mind that the book takes places in the country. In this ...more
You know you want to read a book with this title: Ghetto Cowboy. I mean, c'mon--doesn't that pique your interest just a teeny tiny bit??

This was a very cool book on a number of levels. First, I had no idea that there WERE such things as ghetto cowboys (and, yes, there are!). Cool.

Second, the single-parent-drops-kid-off-with-long-lost-other-parent plot line has gotten old. Until now. Somehow, the setting of an urban stable with ghetto cowboys makes it cool. Really.

Third, the parents are better pa
Deacon Tom F
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally current for today's racial struggles. It is inspired by the real-life urban black horsemen of North Philadelphia and the Brooklyn-Queens area.

Great read.
Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Cole, 12 years old, lives in Detroit with his mother but can't seem to keep out of trouble. After a harrowing visit with the principal, his mother, burnt-out and dejected, takes Cole to Philadelphia to lives with his estranged father.

Topics Covered
1)Historical Black Cowboy Facts
2)Erasure of Black Cowboy History 
3)Urban Cowboy History
4)Father-son relationships
5)Black men as fathers
6)Black male comradery 
7)Mental health
8)Inner-city violence
9)Restorative justice and community outreach
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I took WAY too long to read this. Almost actually too long.

I got it originally at a library conference in 2012 (signed by the author, no less), and because I had a copy with no due date, didn't read it until summer 2016. I liked it even more than I expected to, and ended up booktalking it to my local middle schools in January 2017.

We meet Cole in the midst of a traumatic event in his life, and watch him encounter the nature of animals in an unnatural habitat. The story eventually gets to NIMBY i
Jul 11, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great book about a subject that I had no idea was a real thing! Look up cowboy and you will see that it has connotations to slave days…there were house boys and there were “cow boys”. These modern day inner-city cowboys have a rich history and you will learn about “the cowboy way”. Greg Neri writes from the perspective of a young boy named Cole who has been getting himself into trouble. So his mother drives him to Philly where he will live with his father who is a Ghetto Cowboy. Yes that’ ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Awesome book!

This excellent book was a fairly quick read with a interesting plot, great characters, and a rousing message. The book begins with African American 7th grader Cole getting suspended from school for the rest of the school year for vandalism after skipping school for four weeks. His mama decides to take action by driving him from Detroit to Philadelphia to live with the father he has never known. There he discovers an unusual world of a stable full of cowboys right in the middle of i
I enjoyed reading this book. Cole’s mom had to see the restlessness in her child and had to take her child to the one who could calm him, and bring him back to center. Mom had a bit of restlessness of her own to face. A lot of taming in this family because Cole’s dad had to learn how to reach his own child in the same manner, and better than the children in the community. Everyone appears a s wild horses at first and become tame as they step into their new roles, while trying to maintain the cow ...more
Indy Book Wormette
A Heartwarming Story

Honestly, initially I was turned off because the book has been made into a movie. Secondly, the story is told from Coltrane’s perspective. Coltrane is a textbook juvenile delinquent. However, it truly turned out to be a endearing tale and Train grew on me.

Some of Train’s growth happens too quickly along with Harp’s acceptance of a son he doesn’t know. Nevertheless, as someone who met their biological father at an older age and “found “ myself in him, I understand how quickly
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was ok

the last thing Cole expected to see was a horse, and that is what he saw. this urban realistic-fiction book is about a bad kid (Cole) moved to philly with his dad that he never met before, but at the end he learns, The Cowboy Way.i thought the book had many mistakes but some parts were good, overall, not good 2 stars. Some parts i will show you about so you see my statement. too mush slang, like, "they is electricians",and "I is going get me some food", and that is not how ki
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I didn't read this book until now.

4th grade book talk
Picture a cowboy for a second. You’re probably thinking of someone in the Wild West, in the desert, with a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, a lasso, a horse and saddle, and some cows. Right? What color skin do these cowboys in your head have? White, but tanned from being out in the sun, right?
Cole, the main character of this book, thinks the same way you do. All the cowboys you or he has seen on TV or in movies are white – but he
Ordinarily, I would not pick up a novel with the word 'ghetto' in the title. I have many thoughts and feelings about the word, the most prominent being that a ghetto is a neighborhood, full-stop, so why are we treating them differently from neighborhoods that have a lot more money? (Where is the special nickname for rich, white neighborhoods?) When that neighborhood is forced upon Jewish people, it sends one image; when it denotes under-resourced Black Americans, there's a different message. Nei ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Who exactly is the audience for this book? The voice of the narrator would suggest that it is for middle school aged kids, particularly black kids. However, there is not a kid that age I know that would enjoy the story in the least. Not only is it a kids book about horses in an urban setting, which is boring enough, but there is nothing real to connect with or like about the narrator. I can certainly see why it was chosen as a nominee for the Rebecca Caudill Award as it is exactly the kind of ga ...more
Donna Gephart
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Ghetto Cowboy illuminates a tradition many people may not have learned about.

I lived in Philadelphia more than 30 years and had never heard about the cowboys and stables in North Philadelphia, giving kids a chance to care for horses rather than join gangs.

Neri's story, while based in fact, focuses on a fictional character, Cole, and his struggle to find his place in the world. It's well-told, uses realistic, gritty dialogue and grips readers with a story that needs to be read.

This book belongs i
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Kent
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
But here, Esteemed Reader, is G. Neri and his new classic, Ghetto Cowboy. It's a gripping read for readers of any age, and if you're a writer working on your voice, Ghetto Cowboy is a book you definitely want to read as G. Neri is all about nailing the voice of his protagonist Witness how he writes Cole (short for Coltrane, naturally) as a genuine character who says the things Cole would say the way he would say them (but without all the swearing I imagine he might include if this were YA instea ...more
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
I haven't read a YA book in a while and I saw this was a movie on Netflix so I grabbed it from work. I really enjoyed this book. A very easy read. It is the story of Cole, a 12 year old from Detroit who is dropped off on his father's doorstep after a fight with his mother. He then has to navigate his father's way of life while also getting to know the man he hasn't seen since he was a baby. This book touches on poverty, racism, the police, parenthood, and the journey of growing up and finding yo ...more
Kirsten Jensen
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Maybe hearing horse hooves clop down your city street or watching teens on horseback stop by to survey the Shakespeare in the park crowd is what really finalizes your love for Philly. Maybe it hasn't because you haven't had the pleasure yet. This novel catches some of that experience.

The Fletcher Street stables (and other urban riding clubs) are a story worth telling and a story that needs to continue. Whether you read this book or not I hope your interest is piqued to find out more.
Lauren Waters
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
The characters and plot started out really strong at the start of the book but fell a little flat in the middle. Overall, the story unfolded an important message of standing up for your beliefs and community as well as family.
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
This was such a good read! A unique and engaging story of family and community perseverance in the face of the odds, with gorgeous illustrations throughout the novel. Huge recommend for middle school and high school readers. Looking forward to watching the film adaptation on Netflix this weekend.
Nov 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this story and the film adaptation as well. Also listened to the audiobook— good listen. Appreciated the centering of a rich Black community that has been erased/silenced. Though the book and the film tell different stories, the message remains and will appeal to folx of all ages.
Jan 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth
A great quick read. Horses helping kids who need direction and support. Listed as Teen but appropriate for tweens. I loved that it is based on fact and it sent me to the internet to read more. Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club.
Erin O'Connor
Jul 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Looking forward to watching the Netflix film, Concrete Cowboy” to compare. Book and film were Inspired by true stories of urban Black cowboys. Very interesting.
May 10, 2022 marked it as to-read
Topic: Call of duty
Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise published by Activision. Starting out in 2003, it first focused on games set in World War II. Over time, the series has seen games set in the midst of the Cold War, futuristic worlds, and outer space. The games were first developed by Infinity Ward, then also by Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games. Several spin-off and handheld games were made by other developers. The most recent title, Call of Duty: Vanguard, was release
Sep 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun story told in an engaging way. This was recommended to me by one of my male students. It’s a keeper, for sure.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm sure you met or knew/know someone that is a troublemaker in school. Well in this book Cole is one, but only worse. My opinion in this and Realistic Fiction book is that there is lots of cool action and you will probably enjoy it right from the beginning of the story. I think this book might go good for someone who wants action in their story and get a little sad in it too. To me this was a really cool book, I loved all the action and all the characters.

A 7th grader named Cole that makes his
Joannie Caraballo-López
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review is required for Dr. Sykes' READ5351 course at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Ghetto Cowboy is written in first person point of view from the perspective of the main character Cole. The setting of the story takes place in an urban, rundown neighborhood of Philadelphia. The protagonist, main character is Cole a twelve year old boy who ditched school and frequently got himself into trouble. The antagonist of the story or secondary character in the book is Harper, an African Ameri ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ghetto Cowboy is G. Neri's most recent take at delving into a news story and pulling out an incredibly compelling (and hilarious) story from it.

The book starts out with Cole's mother finding out that he's been cutting school for a month and driving him from Detroit to Philly to leave him on his father's doorstep--a man who Cole has never met. Within his first five minutes in Philly his mother runs into a horse with her car, and he sees his father, who greets him with a scowl wearing a cowboy hat
What a delightful book for preteen and teen boys who are nonreaders, or chose not to read, for whom books like Hatchet, might as well take place on the moon. Or for anyone, old or young, urban, suburban or rural, reader or not there yet, who likes a good story, with a fascinating setting and refreshingly good characters.

“’The Cowboy Way is, no matter what, never ever give up fighting when the chips are down. Real cowboys never give up,’ Harp says…

‘Ain’t nothing changed,’ says Jamaica Bob. ‘Cow
***Spoiler alert***

Have you ever been so bad that your mom took you to your dad's house? Well this book's genre is realistic fiction. this book is the best book I've read this year.

this story takes place in the "Philles" a.k.as Philadelphia & Detroit.Cole wanted to stay with his mom, but his mom doesn't want him there, so she took Cole to his father's house, then he would visit his father in the summer & his mom during the school year.the conflict is person vs self vs person, because he is figh
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
question asker 1 2 Feb 14, 2018 08:37PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
  • Indivisible
  • Queen Sugar
  • Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story
  • Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels)
  • The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel
  • The Sacrifice
  • Goodbye, Mr. Terupt  (Mr. Terupt, #4)
  • March (Trilogy Slipcase Set)
  • The Tortoise or the Hare
  • Little Cloud and Lady Wind
  • Romeo and Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels)
  • Graphic Classics, Volume 1: Edgar Allan Poe
  • Graphic Classics, Volume 22: African-American Classics
  • Black Women Writers at Work
  • Manu
  • The Extra
  • When You Were Here
See similar books…
See top shelves…
G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble. His books have been translated into multiple languages in over 25 countries. They include the novels Tru & Nelle, A Christmas Tale, Ghetto Cowboy, Knockout Games, Surf Mules, and two free-ver ...more

Other books in the series

Ghetto Cowboy (2 books)
  • Polo Cowboy

News & Interviews

Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we're always on alert for any shifts in readerly attention that we can spot. Recently we've noticed a...
81 likes · 8 comments
“When gangs took over the [abandoned public land in Philadelphia] and the neighborhood took a turn for the worse, horses became a way of saving lives. By getting boys interested in raising a horse rather than killing another human being, these cowboys gave the youth something positive: father figures, focus, and the ability to stand tall.” 5 likes
“Looks like you a cowboy after all.” 1 likes
More quotes…