“Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.”
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.
Recognition and Accolades awarded to Ghost Boys
Words of praise for Ghost Boys from the press and authors
“Deftly woven and poignantly told, this a story about society, biases both conscious and unconscious, and trying to right the wrongs of the world. Rhodes captures the all-too- real pain of racial injustice and provides an important window for readers who are just beginning to explore the ideas of privilege and implicit bias.”
“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.”
“Rhodes beautifully weaves together the fictional and the historical… in this gripping and all-too-necessary novel about police brutality, injustice, and the power of bearing witness to the stories of those who are gone.
“Rhodes writes in short, poetic chapters that offer graphic depictions of avoidable tragedies; her hope for a better world packs a powerful punch, delivering a call to action to speak out against prejudice and erase harmful misconceptions.”
“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.”
Articles and interviews on Ghost Boys