“Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.”

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

“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.”

School Library Journal, starred review


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


“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.”

Booklist, starred review


“This is an excellent novel that delves into the timely topic of racism and its effects on all individuals of all walks of life in
the United States.”

School Library Connection, starred review


“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


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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