Ghost

By Jason Reynolds, “Ghost, a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. He must stay on track, literally and figuratively, to reach his full potential”–.

Grades 5-8 /* Starred Review */ Castle “Ghost ” Cranshaw has been running for three years, ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother. When he gets recruited by a local track coach for a championship team, they strike a deal: if Ghost  can stop getting into fights at school, he can run for the Defenders, but one altercation and he’s gone. Despite Ghost ’s best intentions, everyone always has something to say about his raggedy shoes, homemade haircut, ratty clothes, or his neighborhood, and he doesn’t last 24 hours without a brawl. Will Coach and his mom give him another chance to be part of something bigger than himself, or is he simply destined to explode? With his second fantastic middle-grade novel of the year (As Brave as You, 2016), the ferociously talented Reynolds perfectly captures both the pain and earnest longing of a young boy. The first in the four-book  Track series, this is raw and lyrical, and as funny as it is heartbreaking. It tackles issues such as theft, bullying, and domestic violence with candor and bravery, while opening a door for empathy and discussion. An absolute must-read for anyone who has ever wondered how fast you must be to run away from yourself. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Is anyone else putting out so many stellar books so quickly? The author of The Boy in the Black Suit and All American Boys (both 2015) keeps dashing along. — Worthington, Becca (Reviewed 9/1/2016) (Booklist, vol 113, number 1, p106)