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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In a debut novel that's perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Erin Entrada Kelly, award-winning author/illustrator and educator Pat Cummings tells a poignant story about grief, love, and the untold stories that echo across time. 

Trace Carter doesn’t know how to feel at ease in his new life in New York. Even though his artsy Auntie Lea is cool, her brownstone still isn’t h
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  205 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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I feel like ghost stories don’t command the respect they used to. Can anyone seriously contest that they aren’t popular? When I was a kid, the Scholastic Book Club flyer always featured at least one Apple paperback that was ghost related. Inevitably written by a Willo Davis Roberts or a Mary Downing Hahn or a Betty Ren Wright, they were a consistent source of safe spooks. I trusted ghost stories. Loved them even. But these days no one’s really made a concentrated effort to create a creepy brand ...more
Laina SpareTime
Apr 02, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
I got 2% in and the teacher being fat was mentioned 3 times.

For instance:

"The teacher had squeezed her wide hips into the swivel chair behind her desk, a chair that had long ago surrendered under the weight of her failed diets. Listing to one side, it creaked in pain as, with a weary sigh, the teacher leveled her eyes upon him and rested her chins atop the vase."

I search her name and it's all about how disgusting she is that she got a cold. Yeah, this one isn't for me.

Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lib19, 2019
three and a half stars, rounded up....I'd have liked it more if the ghost part of the story was more centered, and the quirky girl classmate was a bit over the top...but there was tremendous emotional cohesion to the ensemble, and I appreciated the history part of it (though again, I'd have liked more of it!)
Ms. Yingling
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Trace lives with his Auntie Lea in New York after the car accident that took his parents' lives and left him with PTSD and a lot of guilt. His aunt isn't a textbook parent, but she surrounds Trace with a support community and also makes sure that he sees Dr. Proctor, a therapist who is helping him with his grief. He has friends at school, and when his class is doing projects on the 1800s, he has a good group that includes his best friend Ty. When he goes to meet the grou
Melanie Dulaney
Great middle grades selection with a mix of ghost story, tragedy and friend drama rounded out with a touch of sad-happy/feel-good thrown in. Trace is still deeply traumatized by his parents’s death and struggling to fit in at his new school as well as find his way in seeing his ditzy aunt in her new role as his guardian. Cummings gives readers a very likeable main character who reveals strong emotions and behaves in a way that most 5th-8th graders will understand. Strong supporting characters ma ...more
Tina Hoggatt
A complex, warmly told story of loss and family, with a terrific ghost story thrown in to knit the threads together. Trace has lost both his parents in a car accident where both his parents drowned and he inexplicably survived. he now lives with his aunt in Brooklyn and is both grieving and adjusting to the new living situation he finds himself in. As school begins he makes a few friends and works once a week with a therapist. Interweaving the 1860's history of the burning of a black orphanage o ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
Starts out with a semi-typical kid surviving loss and massive displacement, getting used to a new school, but quickly introduces some genuinely creepy ghost encounters, that then weave throughout the book. Masterful storytelling that allows Trace's relationships to slowly unfold as he gets used to his new surroundings.

Trace is a middle-schooler (12? I think? 6th or 7th grader? I can't remember if this was specified), who has just been picked to lead a group project on the the decade of US histo
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: yabc-reviews
Find my full review here:

TRACE is a book about healing. Trace lives with his Auntie Lea after his parents died in a car accident which he miraculously survived. He is floundering a bit in school and life, mainly due to PTSD symptoms that have him remembering and reliving the car accident. He visits a psychologist, Dr. Proctor, who helps him to cope with these feelings. He has recently been assigned a school project to study and present the 1860s to his cl
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, aoc, paranormal
A compelling ghost story that neatly weaves in the grief process Trace is going through as he processes his parents' death.

Things I loved: Cholly as a little boy ghost was appropriately creepy. Making him very little and sobbing upped the ante for me, allowing him to be enigmatic and confusing in a realistic way, rather than just because we don't want the ghost to tell us everything.

The pacing was good, I always wanted to keep reading. The interactions between the middle school characters felt
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing

A series of interrelated events assemble to create a haunting tale of intergenerational salvation in Pat Cummings’ debut middle-grade novel Trace. The title character loses his loving parents in a car crash that he miraculously survives and mistakenly blames himself for causing.

Trace moves to Brooklyn to live with his aunt, Lea, an artsy and kind woman who doesn’t have much experience with children but makes up for it with compassion.

At his new school, Tra
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I think many young readers will like "Trace", but there were a few things that tripped me up, making it a "3-star" book.

After losing both his parents in a car accident, Trace goes to live with his (single) aunt in another city (New York? Bronx? I think I missed that detail). Trace was also a passenger in the car when his parents died, but somehow he walked away largely unscathed -- aside from the nightmares and moments of feeling not quite fully present. Despite his aunt's best intentions, and t
I really, really wanted to like this book. I had high hopes for it and wanted it to be something as magical as Rhodes Ghost Boys . Sadly, this was not that strong of a book. It was still a decent story, but there were times where the characterization faltered and it tried to deal with too many things at once. While Trace is struggling to come to terms with his parents' deaths and his survival after a car crash, his "dealing" with it is glossed over. The ghosts that should be central to the stor ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth, mystery, nyc, 2020
I knocked a star off for fat shaming within the first few pages that was repeated later, and calling a girl "exotic."

Trace is struggling with the death of his parents in a car accident they were all in and not really settling into his new home with his aunt or his new school, when he's assigned a speech on the 1860s and learns about the draft riots of 1863 that may be the reason he sees a tiny little boy ghost now.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the mystery, the ghosts, and Trace and his aunt. I alm
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Trace Carter miraculously survived a car accident that claimed both his parents. Now he lives with his aunt in a new city and attend a new school, all the while dealing with the the recurring dreams of the accident. Assigned to a group project in History, Trace manages to get lost in the New York Public library where he was to meet his group. In the shadowy stacks, he comes across a lost little boy, crying, raggedly dressed and way too little to be on his own. Then Trace realizes, no one else ca ...more
Tara Caillavet-Morgan
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Theodore Roosevelt Carter or Trace as he prefers to be called is mired in grief, his every step is dragging him down to the river bottom again and again. Grief at surviving a crash that took his parents that he somehow miraculously survived. Every day is a struggle for Trace to care and to be present in his surroundings. His only friend Ty is pulling away because Trace is constantly caught up in the visceral memory of the car accident. Trace is constantly reliving the feel and smell of the river ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-6-8
Trace Carter now lives in Brooklyn with his Aunt Lea. He is tormented by dreams of his parent's death and his miraculous, mysterious survival. At first he can't bear to face the tragedy or look at pictures of his parents. His therapist tried to help, but Trace just won't let her. He begins to settle and find friends in school, but it is in the New York Public library where he is research for a school assignment on the 1860's, he meets a ghost of a small child which start to turn him around. Aunt ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
(2 of 2 kid books I read this weekend) Trace by Pat Cummings is a non-spooky ghost story, meaning that it is about believing in the possibility of ghosts but not in a we-have-to-be-afraid-way.

Trace lost his family and now lives with his odd but lovable aunt. She has carved space for him in her apartment and in her food and friend and odd-job filled life. Trace is still plagued by nightmares about the accident that claimed the lives of his mom and dad. He’s also consumed with a group project at
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 3 stars are my personal reaction to the book, although I recognize that it is very well written and well crafted so for a different reader, this could easily be five stars. I appreciated the plot and liked the main characters very much, especially Auntie Lea. However, I just found myself thinking the book was very dense and feeling like I would never actually make progress although I was reading it every night. I also had a difficult time believing Trace - and all his teammates - would have ...more
Pat Cummings
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Shelves: reviewed
This novel—by a different Pat Cummings than this reviewer—was surprisingly delightful. The cover intro lead me to expect a Sixth Sense kind of drama, but the ghost that Trace encounters in the library is a single manifestation. The story is less about seeing ghosts than coming to terms with loss and tragedy in our lives, and the healing power of family and friends to support us through a nightmare.

I admit I bought this book because the author's name is the same as mine, and did not have high exp
Sunny Lee
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A intricate and poignant coming-of-age tale centered around a boy named Trace grappling with loss, prickly friends, and ghosts!! There’s colorful characters galore, and Trace will have every reader wishing they had their own Aunt Lea! But beneath it all, is a haunting story, expertly dealing with trauma on many levels, from personal demons to historical ones. I loved the authenticity of Trace’s voice, and how he’s unafraid to navigate his thoughts and make sense of the world as he tries to find ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful New York story for middle grade and older readers, including adults. I'd encourage families to read it together as a great antidote to our electronically-induced isolation. Trace's tale moves from an ephemeral ghost-sighting to a grounding in personal pain and historical memory. His past is our past. It lies hidden, buried in the stacks, and a reading of this fine book will unearth it. It's not gory, not a kiddy fantasy. The characters are warm and amusing people you'll like. ...more
Cheongna Dalton
Trace Carter doesn’t know how to feel at ease in his new life in New York. Even though his artsy Auntie Lea is cool, her brownstone still isn’t his home. Haunted by flashbacks of the accident that killed his parents, the best he can do is try to distract himself from memories of the past. But the past isn’t done with him. When Trace takes a wrong turn in the New York Public Library, he finds someone else lost in the stacks with him: a crying little boy, wearing old, tattered clothes. And though ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Trace is at a new middle school while living with his aunt in NYC. He wakes up nightly dreaming of the accident that took his parents. While in the library doing research, he hears a child crying. Investigating this, working with his school group, and meeting all sorts of people his aunt brings home, things slowly start to even out and Trace finds he is finally sleeping again.

Borderline YA/MG - Trace is a bit old for MG but content and theme wise, upper elementary could handle it. Some kissing,
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A deftly told and moving story of a Brooklyn boy made orphan by a horrific car accident that killed his parents and haunts him daily. There are ghosts in this story; believable, unsettled spirits who come to find Trace when he feels unable to handle his daily life in school and at home with his Aunt Lea. But ghosts can put all sorts of things to rest it turns out. Cummings captures the grief and despair and excitement of a boy coming to terms with huge loss while learning to put one foot in fron ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn’t know much about the book before I started reading, but was soon pulled into Trace’s new life in Brooklyn following the death of his parents. I don’t want to spoil the mystery for you, suffice it to say, Cummings layers characters and clues throughout the story, inviting readers to make the leaps. Whether or not you see the resolution coming, you’ll be left feeling that life is well worth living, that it can be full and vibrant, and that it goes on.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent ghost story of the little boy killed in the Negro Orphan building's burning during the race riots of 1863, as modern-day Trace also adjusts to life without his parents and releases the guilt he has for surviving their accident. Well-written, and the historical aspects were seamlessly incorporated. I also liked Trace's free-spirited Aunt Lea who now takes care of Trace in her own fashion.
Dana Fontaine
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don’t miss this underrated book!

This is a great ghost story for Middle Grade readers. You will not be disappointed. This story is about Trace who miraculously survived a car crash and ends up in New York with his Free spirited Aunt. At the New York Public Library with friends, he gets lost and ends up in the stacks. Trace has a spiritual encounter and goes on a quest through history to find out what happened to this particular spirit.
Debbie Tanner
This mysterious middle grade fiction book is about Trace, who is struggling with his parents' death but living with his aunt who adores him. His new school is ok and when he starts a group history project things get even more interesting. There are some terrific themes of dealing with a loss, blame, friendship, family, and lesser known parts of history. The characters in this are really great. I liked this one a lot.
Woodland Hill
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Trace survived a car accident that killed his parents. He is heartbroken and the situation is more difficult because he needs to move to Brooklyn to live with his Aunt. He struggles to fit in at his new school and sees his first research project as a chance to make friends. While waiting for his partners he finds himself alone in the bookstacks of the New York Public Library and sees a crying little boy wearing outdated clothes. Is it a ghost? Can Trace help him? Should he try?
Kyle Pucciarello
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars.

Had a little bit of trouble sticking with this book - while I like that you jump right into the action, you kind of want a little more backstory before having to deal with so many characters in the family tree.

Might be worth a reread to see if I'd enjoy it more upon a second reading. Nice mix of mysticism, reality, and mystery.
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