When I was recently sent a copy of Ghost Boys for a review I did not know what to expect. But before I could even start reading it my eleven-year old son spotted it, started reading it and then quickly finished it within three days (yes, he likes sitting on a gym ball when he reads).
When I asked him about the book he said it was sad and it made him question the whole judicial system in America (that immediately prompted me to ask him more questions). We ended up having a long family discussion (the entire family joined in) about a number of issues like – why would you shoot someone in the back? Surely if someone is running away from you, they are not threatening you? Why did the judge rule in the cops favour even when they saw the video? Why did the Cop say things like, he was the size of an adult and it was dark when that was not true?
It was quite a conversation and it prompted me to read the book for myself.
I was really impressed with the entire story. Everything about this book just impressed me.
I liked the way the author jumped between the main character being alive and dead as a way of explaining what happened – it was an interesting writing technique and it worked really well. I enjoyed the story line of Jerome being bullied, finding a friend, being happy, if only for a very short time before he was killed and how it came full circle back to his friend and the bullies now protecting Jerome’s little sister (love how that sweet moment showed bullies can change).
I also appreciated the way the author showed you both sides of the story. The story is narrated by Jerome (the kids who is shot) but he is able to communicate with the cops daughter and through that relationship you also get to witness how the killing is slowly destroying the cops family. It was interesting seeing how Sarah (the cops daughter) goes from blindly believing her dad, to questioning him to realizing that her dad was at fault. And I thought the way the author wrapped it up with Sarah creating a website about the black kids who had been killed, asking her dad to help her with the website and him actually agreeing was a brilliant conclusion. It was a positive way of wrapping it up, giving the kids who read this story hope and saying people can change and people who have made mistakes can try and do good in the future. I really do think that while it is important to write these stories it is also important to give the kids reading them Hope, and not to leave them with utter despair and I feel like the author achieves this balance beautifully. She does not shy away from the reality and the issues but she gives the kids something to latch onto so they know everything can improve.
This really is a worthwhile read. A read that is going to result in your kids asking questions and wanting to discuss real issues with you and honestly those are always the reads that are the best.
I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed.
Okay now this book like all the Rollercoaster books comes with a free to download Resource Guide. I must confess with this book we skipped the suggested lessons and just picked out a few of the activities. The main reason for that was I was not expecting my son to tear through the book, the way he did and after having our long discussion about the book I actually felt like he had already focused on the important parts. (Just to clarify – on the OUP website if you go to the page about the book there is a button on the right hand side which says -Rollercoaster Resource Pack – click on that and you will get the free resource pack. And it is the same with all of the Rollercoaster books – just go to the page that talks about the book and you will find a link to that books resource pack)
The Resource pack that you do get is very useful and it is FREE. There is a summary of the entire book along with lesson plans, resources for each lesson and suggested answers. Really it is a very useful resource that you can choose to use. In the past we have often stuck very closely to the suggested lesson plans and we have also just dipped in and out, really for us, it depends upon the book and the way my kids respond to the story.
And the other thing that I want to mention is there are notes at the end of the book – I really liked the Afterword, Author Profile and Novel Insight pages. I thought they just added some great background and context to the author and why she wrote this story. There are also a few other pages at the back of the book which others may find helpful they are – pages on Language and Style, first person narration and adjectives (these just expand on writing choices made by the author when she wrote this book).
You can order this book directly from OUP- Ghost Boys or you can get it from Amazon – Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Admin – As I mentioned above I was sent a review copy of this book. The fact that it was a review copy does not influence how my son enjoyed reading the book or his thoughts on the book.
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