“I’m dead. I thought I was bigger. Tough. But I’m just a bit of nothing.”

Ghost Boys

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 process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.

Publication Date: April 17, 2018


Words of praise for Ghost Boys from the press and authors

“The voice of Ghost Boys is nothing less than prophetic: it rings out in its plot lines, in its characters, in its tones, in its images. And here is what that voice says: ‘Bear witness.’ Parker Rhodes undergirds the urgency of that call with the sweetness of grace-filled hope, so that, dear reader, you will come away from this tale, made larger–which, of course, is what truly great stories do.”

Gary Schmidt, two-time Newbery Honor-Winning Author


Ghost Boys gently walks readers through the minefield of young black boys who have been killed due to racism, dating back to the murder of Emmett Till. By exploring the fear that is at the core of these murders, Jewell Parker Rhodes suggests ways the living can crack that fear and, eventually, end this epidemic of death.”

Nikki Grimes, bestselling and award-winning author of Garvey’s Choice and One Last Word


“Wow, Ghost Boys is an amazing book! For a story based on a violent act, the author’s message of peace and understanding for others is very powerful. It is beautifully written and very much needed in our world today. Rhodes delivers an emotionally moving book that everyone should read.”

Jennifer Hill, Powell’s Books


Ghost Boys could be the book of the year. It will challenge most Americans to recognize the racism we cannot hide from.”

Margaret Brennan Neville, The King’s English Bookshop


“Reading Jewell Parker Rhodes is always a privilege, but this book in particular cut me to my core. What touched me most was Rhodes’s extraordinary compassion for each character… I can’t wait for the rest of the world to read this incredible novel.”

Sami Thomason, Square Books


Articles and interviews on Ghost Boys

Why Teens Should Be Reading About Police Brutality and Racism

New Crop of Young Adult Novels Explores Race and Police Brutality
New York Times

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