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(Track #1)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  32,731 ratings  ·  5,017 reviews
Running. That's all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race -- and wins -- the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is tr ...more
Hardcover, 181 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
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Myra I see Ghost as a kid who has experienced trauma and was reacting to it. He really wants to do the right things - I think Coach was a blessing in his l…moreI see Ghost as a kid who has experienced trauma and was reacting to it. He really wants to do the right things - I think Coach was a blessing in his life. (less)

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  32,731 ratings  ·  5,017 reviews

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This is a generalization, but in my experience librarians really enjoy reading within their comfort zones. They’ll travel outside of them from time to time but always they return to the books that they like the most. Children’s librarians are just the same. The fantasy readers stick to fantasy. The realism fans go with realism. Graphic novel readers with comics. When I served on a yearly committee of librarians in New York I’d notice that some books were difficult to get anyone to read. Horse bo ...more
You could pass this book to hundreds of kids and they will love it. Delighted that Jason Reynolds is writing a series for middle grade readers, so kids can grow up with his books.
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Ghost is a deeply moving book with several important messages for young readers.

Castle Crenshaw goes by the name Ghost, because he's a wicked fast runner. The first time he ran -- truly ran -- he was running for his life: running ain't nothing I ever had to practice. It's just something I knew how to do.

Now that he's older, Ghost puts his natural talent to work by running track. But he's not just running t
Mike Mullin
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I saw this on some award nomination list--I can't remember which one. And I don't really care which list it was--Ghost ought to win. It should win all the awards. It's a spectacular book with a perfect voice and exquisitely told story. I cried through the last 20% or so of the book. It's not sad--it's just beautiful enough to move a cracked chunk of concrete to tears. Despite the fact that the protagonist, Castle, is a dirt-poor black kid and I grew up in a middle-class white family, I could ide ...more
Maggie Stiefvater
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wish I would have had this book alongside all my Beverly Cleary books back in middle school. Like Cleary, Jason Reynolds clearly remembers what it was to be a kid — the private humiliations, the silliness, the outsized misconceptions, the way the tiniest bit of support can change a day.
What a great story!

I was at the library looking for another book to read and I have seen this cover several times and I decided I wanted to read it. I haven't read about the track world, so I thought, let's learn about running.

Ghost is a great character. He is into the Guinness book of World records and he likes sunflower seeds. He has a great insight into life as well. He wants to be on the team and one day he decides to show up these fancy people on the track and show them he can run too. He r
jv poore
Dec 10, 2018 marked it as to-read
When a 13-year-old boy tells me, "I hate to read. But. Have you read Ghost by Jason Reynolds? 'Cause that's awesome!" I am absolutely adding that to my stack. ...more
Kobe Bryant
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this after my middle daughter recommended. She's 12 and an athlete in her own right. The voice is realand perfectly depicts the challenges kid face on and off the field. It shows them how to face those challenges in an approachable way, and I love that it features characters who look like my kids and that they can directly relate to. ...more
Rachel Reads Ravenously
I thought this was utterly fantastic. In my opinion, this should be required reading in schools everywhere.
I'm excited to read more by Jason Reynolds. He's an outstanding author.
Book Riot Community

This was just a pitch perfect middle grade / youngish YA book that was a total delight from start to finish. I’ve been trying to read some boys marketed to boys to round out my librarian knowledge and this was a great start. I have to say that as someone who has very little interest in sports, I was surprised at how much I liked this story about a 13-year-old urban black kid Castle Crenshaw, aka “Ghost,” joining a track team. More than just a sports story, it was a sensitive, realistic look at a
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I am posting this review late because I read it earlier in the year for a postal bookswap, which was hush hush until everyone had seen all the titles.

I've always heard of Jason Reynolds in the context of being a good choice for what we in librarianship call "reluctant readers." I can definitely see the appeal here with sports, single parent, outsider, urban, black representation and more. I loved that Ghost isn't perfect but that the consequences take a while to show up (not as didactic as some
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've never met a Jason Reynolds book I didn't like. ...more
Joy D
I first became aware of this book while watching Public Broadcasting System’s Great American Read. It is a short middle grade novel about a black youth who joins a track team. Castle Cranshaw, nicknamed “Ghost,” is the narrator of his own story. Castle is a likeable character. Though he experiences family trauma, resulting in his father going to prison, and has committed a crime himself, the reader can tell he is sensitive and has a conscience. He wants to do the right thing but does not always ...more
Claude's Bookzone
Apr 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well that was a great middle school novel about overcoming challenges and believing in yourself.

Ghost is an endearing character who is struggling to move past a traumatic event. Whilst people have particular perceptions of what kind of person he is, his own self worth and expectation that he will be let down are also a major theme in this book. I loved that he found a strong supportive role model in his coach and the determination of his mother to make her own success. I thoroughly recommend thi
Nic Stone
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's no secret that I love everything with Jason Reynolds's name on it, but GHOST was really something special. It follows an impoverished kid name Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw who accidentally joins a recreational track team after beating the team's fastest sprinter in an impromptu race. Castle's been through a major trauma, and as his self-given nickname--GHOST--suggests, he does his best to move through the world under the radar to avoid trouble.

Of course he fails. And that's what I loved about t
Mary Ann
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
BOOM! Third time reading this and it still pulls me straight through each time.

from a 5th grader today: "I loved how you feel like you're Ghost. You get mad at someone, then forgive them. It feels like your emotions are building up until Ghost takes the shoes. Then they break when his coach brings him back to the store." definitely reaching kids in Berkeley!
Jason Reynolds' dialogue and characters feel so real to me, and when the characters do things, even things I don't particularly like, as Ghost does at one point in this story, I follow along, knowing Reynolds will take me on an interesting journey.
Ghost and his mother are not well off; his father attempted to shoot them one drunken night, and Ghost retains a certain amount of fear and desire to run from that traumatic night. His mother, meanwhile, is struggling financially, and is studying to be
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Our hero is a young boy who is braver than he knows. He is a natural runner. As a child he ran for his life and as a teen his gift is discovered by a track coach. The sport gives him purpose and helps him uncover his courage.
Shaun Hutchinson
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I haven't been reading a lot of MG, but GHOST was awesome. The voice and the writing were just outstanding. GHOST was fantastic. ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book for my class, and I loved it. Jason, you did it again.

I loved Ghost, Patina, Lu, and Brandon. The writing in this novel made me feel like I was 10 again, and I was just a little kid who liked to read books about sports. And the characters were great. Ghost, Patina, Lu, and Otis (Coach), and Brandon had a lot of development. They all developed in their own unique ways, and it was amazing to see that. But I'll tell you right now. My favorite character had to be M
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written middle grade that should be passed on to every kid in my opinion. Even though I slightly exceed the middle grade age (no like literally...) I adored what this book did. It kept me engaged and it was enthralling to read from the perspective of Ghost (Castle Cranshaw) , about his thoughts and choices made which were closely linked to his circumstances and past events.

I am definitely going to delve into more of Jason Reynolds' books if they are as good as Ghost!
A total delight from start to finish, Ghost is a deceptively simple story about 13-year-old urban black kid Castle Crenshaw, aka “Ghost.” One day while killing time in the park, he stumbles upon a track practice and ends up racing one of the fastest kids on the team—and winning. Impressed, the coach offers Ghost a spot on the team. Kind of against his better judgement—he’s always thought of himself as a basketball player even though he’s not on a team—Ghost joins up. He soon discovers that the o ...more
Update (03/2021): I mean at this point do we expect me do give Mr. Reynolds anything less? Absolutely not. This book was just as good as I remembered and definitely one that needs to be in the hands in as many kids as possibly. As I've stated in my previous thoughts, Ghost (Castle) is such a complex character and it's through his complexity that readers are truly able to appreciate the story as a whole. Ghost definitely isn't always an easy read, but it's a necessary read. It's a book that will ...more
May 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Of middle-grade education professionals and middle-grade novel enjoyers, I am definitely in the minority of this one. I had such high hopes for this book to be a companion read to The Crossover by Kwame Alexander with my 6th graders. My sixth graders are reluctant readers who like fast paced, realistic fiction with characters they can root for. Was this book fast paced? Not at all. Even though it is only 180 pages, I found myself absolutely bored and took about a month-long break after getting h ...more
Abby Johnson
Jason Reynolds is a master of voice and dialog; the audiobook narration was fantastic. I felt like Ghost was actually sitting with me and telling me the story. I would highly recommend the audio for this title!

Castle Crenshaw (or Ghost, as he wants to be called) knows he can run fast. He knows because when his dad came at him and his mother on one violent night, running was the only way to get away. Life hasn't been super kind to Ghost - the kids at school make fun of him because he's poor and h
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, sports, urban
When I go out to the schools to booktalk, twelve books in tow, I occasionally get the question of which of the year's books is my personal favorite. I have a couple favorites this year (like most years), but this one is almost always the first I mention. Largely because it's the first of its kind.

Last year, the national Summer Reading Theme was sports. When preparing the district teen booklist, my coworker was in charge of including Running/Track books. And She Could Not Find a Single Young Adul
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
It's Newbery reading time, so I picked this up - and color me impressed. By the book, that is. Which is to say: I closed this and did not think of a medal (though I won't be upset if this book wins one).

This reads like a middle grade staple. It skews younger in length, depth of story, and complexity. That's not a dig. This isn't very long, and the story takes place over a short period of time, meaning there's not a lot of ground covered. Nor are there complex structural or thematic approaches.
Monica Edinger
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reynold's voice here for Ghost is authentic, consistent, and raises this from an enjoyable beginning to a series to something more. Superb dialog, real situations, fabulous description (I can just see the shoes), and impressive characters. Having trained with a coach as part of an adult track club decades ago I can vouch for the authenticity of the workouts, say those "fart licks" (the real term is fartlek ---a Swedish word for exactly what Ghost and his team mates do). I look forward to further ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
The words on these pages simply vibrate with urgency, authenticity, and energy. Capturing a middle school boy - on paper - takes some real skills. Ghost is not a caricature of a middle school boy growing up in the projects with a single mother: Jason Reynolds embodies this boy from the inside out, makes him breathe, and come to life. Hand to your middle school boys, especially those who connected with Kwame Alexander, sports, and running.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sir, who gave you permission to speak to me through your writing like that?
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Read Aloud Response 21 29 Sep 29, 2020 10:07AM  
Great Middle Grad...: BOTM for July is Ghost 9 32 Sep 06, 2020 11:53AM  
Play Book Tag: [Poll Ballot] Ghost by Jason Reynolds - 4 stars 1 11 Aug 11, 2020 10:16AM  
Play Book Tag: (Poll Ballot Tally) Ghost by Jason Reynolds - 4 stars 1 6 Jul 04, 2020 06:56PM  
EDST 3333: Ghost 1 2 Dec 05, 2019 06:50PM  

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After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, Jason Reynolds moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it al ...more

Other books in the series

Track (4 books)
  • Patina (Track, #2)
  • Sunny (Track, #3)
  • Lu (Track, #4)

Articles featuring this book

Jacqueline Woodson seems to have been born to be a writer. Even as a young child, she would write constantly.
41 likes · 7 comments
“You can't run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.” 146 likes
“Trouble is, you can't run away from yourself." Coach snatched the towel from his shoulder, folded into a perfect square, and set it in the space between us. "Unfortunately," he said, "ain't nobody that fast.” 32 likes
More quotes…