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

Ghost Boys

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  9,786 ratings  ·  1,856 reviews
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
Hardcover, 214 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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 Ghost Boys, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Journ'e Hi Josuah, I'm also in 6th grade & I don't think this book is bad. If you can't take in the fact that your reading a book about a boy that gets…moreHi Josuah, I'm also in 6th grade & I don't think this book is bad. If you can't take in the fact that your reading a book about a boy that gets shot by a police and dies, you probably shouldn't read it. But the book is for matures.(less)
Elise For high schoolers, they might prefer 'The Hate U Give' or 'All American Boys', similar subject matter, but written for an older audience. If you have…moreFor high schoolers, they might prefer 'The Hate U Give' or 'All American Boys', similar subject matter, but written for an older audience. If you have students looking for a historical perspective, 'Dreamland Burning' is another phenomenal book.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,786 ratings  ·  1,856 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ghost Boys
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I always struggle to review these types of novels--these black lives matter, civil rights-esque novels. I often go into them expecting to be angry. I'm pre-angry before I even start them. Why? Because this is happening, still--today, and though the books are based on fictional characters--the story themselves are all too real.

Jerome, was a kid--playing with a toy gun--when he was gunned down by a police officer. Mistaken for a "grown man," posing as a threat to--society, I suppose.

The world's
Hannah Greendale
Jewell Parker Rhodes tackles timely issues (racial bias, bullying, class differences with regard to education and upbringing, gun violence) and introduces young readers to important figures (Emmett Till, Tamir Rice) in this story of a twelve-year-old black boy who is shot and killed after police mistakenly assume his toy gun is a real weapon.

Despite the significance of its subject matter, Ghost Boys is crippled by a frenetic writing style:

He tells her about San Antonio. "Always sun. Never
I finished this book while the National Anthem played on the Atlanta airport TVs for the Super Bowl. I burst into tears. This is a haunting and important book I'll be thinking about for a long time.
Some authors write 400-page books and never manage to successfully convey their intended message to their readers. Jewell Parker Rhodes here wrote a 200-page story that brims with strength, power and importance.

I read it in a single sitting. That’s how well-written and captivating it was. I must have gotten goosebumps at least five times as I read about twelve-year-old Jerome’s life before and after death as well as the different reactions of his friends and family members.

It’s possible you’ve
Rebecca McNutt
Ghost Boys will definitely appeal to fans of The Lovely Bones in its strangely beautiful and sad story of a young boy murdered and trying to understand why, but its infusion of deeper themes including systematic racism and gun violence gives it its own original footing. All too often we look at these types of killings as mere statistics, but young Jerome, whose life was cut short in a tragic misunderstanding, gives a human face to the headlines and hushed gossip. Emmett Till appears as a central ...more
Rachel Reads Ravenously
4 stars!

“Can't undo wrong. Can only do our best to make things right.”

Ghost Boys is a short but powerful read, and one I hope people of all ages will read. Jerome is out playing with a toy gun when two policemen shoot him. Dead, he watches over his family and community as they grieve. Joining him in the afterlife is Emmett Till, the ghost of a young boy killed in 1955.

I read this in one sitting, it's a very fast read but it packs a lot of punch. I was doing my best not to cry in public but
This is the book I have been waiting for! I have been desperately searching for a middle grade book that would cover the same topics as The Hate U Give & Dear Martin but in a way that was more suitable for a younger audience. I tried to find it in The Stars Beneath Our Feet , but, that one was not it for me. This one was. This book is important. Relevant. Moving. Authentic. Hopeful. Searing. Gutting. A must-read.

Jerome is shot by the police after a 911 call goes in that there is a man
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"All children, except one, grow up."
-Peter Pan

"A shadow. Then, another. And another. Another and another. Hundreds, thousands of ghost boys standing, ever still, looking up, through the window into our souls.
Do I have a soul still?
'I don't understand?'
'These are your... our people.'
'Black boys,' Sarah whispers, then clamps her hand over her mouth... I turn from him and Sarah. I look down. Hundreds and hundreds of shadow boys. A heart-wrenching crew. Army strong. No, zombie apocalypse strong.
Amber K.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books like this make change. I highly recommend this one and hope it is in many middle school and high school classrooms when it is released this spring.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
“People change, but not enough at the same time. Or, maybe, people change, then forget they’ve changed and keep hurting”.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-mid-grade
An absolutely heart breaking but so so so important book!

With beautiful vision and gut wrenching honesty, Rhodes pulls readers into the world seen through the eyes of a recently deceased 12-year-old named Jerome. With the ghost of Emmett Till as a kind of guide, Jerome starts to understand the depths of what it means to be black in America.

As he sees his family weighed down in grief and follows the trial of the police officer who shot him, Jerome also learns that this kind of tragedy can be
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although i wish it ended differently, I did like this book very much :)
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
12-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer while playing with a toy gun. He comes back as a ghost were he is invisible to everyone except the ghost boys and a girl called Sarah. One of the ghosts he meets is Emmett Till. Emmett, Jerome, and the other ghost boys went through the same thing because of their race. This book is a really good representation of the injustices and prejudices of our world. Every middle schooler should read it.
The Reading Countess
Skinny book, big ideas.

Jewell Parker Rhodes does it again. Ninth Ward. Towers Falling. Bayou Magic. And now Ghost Boys. She has an uncanny sense of when to float books out into the world.

Lyrically written, as we have come to expect from her, this is more than a tale of injustice; it's a unique mix of both historical AND realistic fiction. Sadly, the lines between what has happened in the past are all too close to the present ones. This is an important book at an important time. My question is,
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Don't pity me," I say, sharp, frustrated by Sarah
"Maybe I can help you? Help you both? Like Wendy helped Peter?"
"Is Peter white? He's white, isn't he?" I ask, insistent, furious."

And this, folks, is how it's done. Jewell Parker Rhodes has hit us with a masterpiece that is one of the best Black Lives Matter novels to date. I knew the story of Emmet Till before reading this but Rhodes' writing gave me chills. You might not be expecting much from a middle grade novel but this one is intense. I
Richard Cardenas
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I already know this is going to be one of my favorite books of the year. This was such a moving and raw story and one of the first Middle-Grade books I’ve read that deals with police brutality. I really like how Jewell handled the story and made it to where children reading this would understand it. I hope more kids pick this one up. If you enjoyed The Hate U Give, pick this one up, you will not regret it. I also read this with the audiobook so I’d say to read both at the
Miss Nuding C8B
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A MUST READ. I've never read a book that has so smoothly and effectively utilized POV to characterize a protagonist and supplementary characters. This book shows readers at every age that it is their duty to stand by what they believe in and use their lives to promote positive change. Very important.
In a world where we are inundated daily with terror and hate, we are taught to fear first, think later. This is the heartbreaking story of one young boy’s death when he is shot by a policeman and how his ghost will bear witness to the breadth of the devastation that follows.

Jewell Parker Rhodes’ GHOST BOYS addresses a slice of the rampant racism that still exists in our “enlightened” society. Jerome will witness the devastation of his family as they crumble as individuals forgetting to stand
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is heartbreaking but is such an important book. It is one that I hope gets into the hands of as many kids as possible because as Rhodes states in the afterword, it is our youth that will be able to “dismantle personal and systemic racism.”

I love the way Rhodes writes and this book is no exception. Told from the perspective of Jerome, a 12 year old boy killed by a police officer, it is a complex & necessary look at the current state of our world.

I received an ARC of this book from
Jillian Heise
Ghost Boys is phenomenal. A powerful, timely, necessary book, and one written for our middle grades kids who need to hear these stories also. A must-read of 2018 for all educators, and a must-purchase for 4th grade and up classroom and school libraries.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fast middle grade read that packs an emotional wallop.

Twelve year old Jerome is shot and killed while playing outside his apartment building by a white police officer. Following his death, Jerome watches his funeral, attends the hearing of the officer who shot him, and discovers that although his family can't see or hear him, the 12 year old daughter (Sarah) of the police officer who shot him can. Jerome also encounters and is both taught and consoled by Emmett Till, who introduces him to the
Alex  Baugh
For Jerome Rogers, living in his low-income Chicago neighborhood can be dangerous, but so can going to middle school. There, Jerome is the target of three bullies, Eddie, Snap, and Mike, who enjoy doing things to him like dumping out his backpack, hitting him in the head, or pulling down his pants. Jerome has no friends, and eats his lunch in a bathroom, locker room or supply closet - hiding out alone.

That is, until Carlos arrives. Carlos, a Mexican American boy, is the new kid in school,
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: river-of-tears
“Until skin color doesn’t matter. Only friendship. Kindness. Understanding.”

THIS BOOK literally crushed my heart into million pieces , it's so beautifully written and so heartbreaking and heavy to read

the main character " Jerome" is a kid who's been shot by the police and throughout the story we learn about him the minute he die and how her react to everything that happens after his death , because when Jerome got shot he didn't die he turned to a ghost and nobody sees him but few and so it a
Ms. Yingling
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC provided by publisher at ALA

Timely and sad. Made me wonder why toy guns are allowed to be produced and sold in the US.
Dee Dee G
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for all young people of all races. Such a good book.
Jewell Parker Rhodes again uses her fictional skills to bring racial issues to us in a deeply touching story of a twelve-year-old black boy who is shot and killed by a police officer. As in “Towers Falling”, the themes of community, socio-economic disparities and diversity underlie the story. In the earliest words, we read, “How small I look. Laid out flat, my stomach touching ground. My right knee bent and my brand-new Nikes stained with blood.” And a bit later, “Doesn’t seem fair. Nobody ever ...more
Several new Black Lives Matter fictional stories have used the magical realism element of the dead to tell their story as a whole or partially (I Am Alfonso Jones, Long Way Down, and Ghost Boys). What makes me most proud of these stories is the writing that elicits a stark emotional response for the characters and questions the world we live in.

Rhodes uses the twelve year old Jerome, dead after a white police officer mistakes his toy gun for a real one, and who he meets in the afterlife, a
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jewell Parker Rhodes is a genius at distilling challenging subjects for middle grade readers — from 9/11 to Katrina — and this story of ghost boys Jerome (with parallels to Tamir Rice) and Emmett (Till) is no exception. As a white mother of white boys, I have the incredible privilege of choosing when I want to spend time with the hard issues of police violence against black men and boys. This hit home more than ever while reading Ghost Boys with my 9-year-old son; it’s a short book, there were ...more
Kate ☀️ Olson
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Incredibly powerful. Ideal for book groups, lit circles etc or class read aloud where there can be teacher-facilitated discussions re racism and police brutality. My recommended “sweet spot” for this story is grades 6-8. It’s not inappropriate for younger but may need more mediation in elementary grades depending on the readers.
Ann Braden
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that can start the conversations about race that we need to be having in this country. All white people (myself included) should be sure to read this.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Zeta Book Recomme...: Ghost Boys by Jowell Parker Rhodes 2 8 Apr 08, 2019 06:58AM  
Zeta Book Recomme...: Ghost Boys Book Review 1 10 Feb 03, 2019 07:58AM  
Mock Newbery 2020: September Read - Ghost Boys 14 171 Nov 08, 2018 05:39PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Harbor Me
  • Amal Unbound
  • Front Desk
  • The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
  • The Parker Inheritance
  • Blended
  • Rebound
  • The Benefits of Being an Octopus
  • Look Both Ways
  • The Night Diary
  • Saving Winslow
  • The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
  • Sunny (Track, #3)
  • Merci Suárez Changes Gears
  • Captain Superlative
  • New Kid
  • The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle
  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
See similar books…
Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better" (Rhodes).” 13 likes
“Can't undo wrong. Can only do our best to make things right.” 8 likes
More quotes…