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Ghost (1) (Track) Hardcover – August 30, 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 4,144 ratings

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Popular Highlights in this book

From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5–9—Castle "Ghost" Crenshaw lives with his single mother; his father is serving time in prison after firing a gun at Ghost and his mom three years ago—and Ghost has been running ever since. While running one day, he stops to watch a track practice and decides to crash the race. Impressed, the coach offers him a position on the team. His mom reluctantly agrees to let him join as long as he can behave himself and stay out of trouble in school. This is a struggle for the impulsive Ghost, but with Coach's help, he learns the advantages of diligent practice and teamwork. Reynolds paints a realistic picture of a boy who needs the support of his community to channel his talent and energy. Supporting adult characters, like shop owner Mr. Charles and Coach, are positive, nuanced, and well-developed. The diverse team members are dealing with their own struggles, which will be explored in three future installments. The consequences for Ghost's misbehavior are somewhat inconsistent, but the detailed and informative descriptions of running and training with an elite track team more than make up for this. VERDICT The focus on track athletics—a subject sorely lacking in the middle grade space—combined with the quality of Reynolds's characters and prose, makes this an essential purchase.—Karen Yingling, Blendon Middle School, Westerville, OH

Review

Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw feels like he's been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.His dad's been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many "altercations" he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he's fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid "altercations." But Ma doesn't have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost's narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow "newbies" on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost's world are described as such. An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)  -- Kirkus Reviews ― 8/1/16

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. — Becca Worthington

  -- Booklist, STARRED REVIEW ―
9/1/16

Reynolds (As Brave As You) uses a light hand to delve into topics that include gun violence, class disparity, and bullying in this compelling series opener. Seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, nicknamed Ghost, knows nothing about track when a former Olympian recruits him as a sprinter for one of the city's youth teams. As far as Ghost is concerned, "whoever invented track got the whole gun means go thing right," something he learned firsthand when his father tried to shoot Ghost and his mother in their apartment three years prior. The trauma has had ripple effects on Ghost, including angry outbursts ("I was the boy.... with all the scream inside"), altercations at school, stealing, and lying. Joining the track team provides new friends, goals, and an opportunity for Ghost to move beyond his past. Ghost is a well-meaning, personable narrator whose intense struggles are balanced by a love of world records, sunflower seeds, and his mother. Coach's relationship with Ghost develops into a surrogate father-son scenario, adding substantial emotional resonance and humor to the mix. Ages 10–up.  -- Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW* ―
August 8, 2016

Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw lives with his single mother; his father is serving time in prison after firing a gun at Ghost and his mom three years ago—and Ghost has been running ever since. While running one day, he stops to watch a track practice and decides to crash the race. Impressed, the coach offers him a position on the team. His mom reluctantly agrees to let him join as long as he can behave himself and stay out of trouble in school. This is a struggle for the impulsive Ghost, but with Coach’s help, he learns the advantages of diligent practice and teamwork. Reynolds paints a realistic picture of a boy who needs the support of his community to channel his talent and energy. Supporting adult characters, like shop owner Mr. Charles and Coach, are positive, nuanced, and well-developed. The diverse team members are dealing with their own struggles, which will be explored in three future installments. The consequences for Ghost’s misbehavior are somewhat inconsistent, but the detailed and informative descriptions of running and training with an elite track team more than make up for this. VERDICT The focus on track athletics—a subject sorely lacking in the middle grade space—combined with the quality of Reynolds’s characters and prose, makes this an essential purchase. -- School Library Journal *STARRED* ―
September 2016

Sometimes a whole life can change in one night. For seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, that night was three years ago when his father tried to shoot him and his mother, when "the liquor made him meaner than he'd ever been." That's when Castle started to call himself "Ghost," because Mr. Charles, who let the terrified pair take refuge in his all-night store, "looked at us like he was looking at two ghosts." And that was the night he learned how to run...
really run.

Jason Reynolds (
As Brave as You) has a playful, intimate and conversational style, and in Ghost, a middle-grade series debut, he tells the story of how an unforgettable flight of terror led to an African American boy's instinct to run--fast. One day on his walk home, Ghost sees a track team practicing with their short bald coach who looks like "a turtle with a chipped tooth." Keenly observant Ghost becomes annoyed with one of the runners others perceive as unbeatable, and decides to "keep up with him, if not beat him" even though he "ain't ever had a running lesson." He stubbornly persists until the coach relents: "Listen, you get one run, you hear me?"

The story of Ghost's evolving relationships with his anger, with his ever-worried mother, with Coach Brody and with running is a joy to read. For a boy who's "got a lot of scream inside," Ghost can riff entertainingly on topics from eating sunflower seeds to 100-meter sprints.
Ghost is about kids who are, in both senses, running for their lives, and the generous souls who help them along the way.  

Discover: In Jason Reynolds's excellent middle-grade novel, a boy learns to run when his father shoots a gun at him--and he never stops running.

  -- Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW ―
9/6/16

Castle Crenshaw discovered his fleet feet on the night his drunken father pulled a gun on his mother and him, and the pair took off running into the night. Now Dad is in jail, Mom is working too hard, but Castle’s getting by—or he would be if the likes of seventh-grade bully Brandon would just leave him alone. Hanging out on the park bleachers one afternoon, Castle, who insists on the nickname “Ghost,” watches a track team at their season opening practice, unimpressed. When he swaggers up to the starting line and shows the team hotshot that he’s really not all that, Ghost’s obvious talent catches Coach’s eye; after a quick meeting with Mom, he finds himself joining the Defenders, a city track team. Despite his speed, he’s a rank novice in terms of team playing, and his off-track conduct—fighting at school, stealing—isn’t all that great either, but Coach is merciful and doggedly insistent that Ghost can do better. A message-heavy scene in which the newbies bond over Chinese food and shared family secrets might play on tropes but successfully tugs at heartstrings. The final pages have Ghost lined up beside none other than the hated Brandon, but an ambiguous ending confirms that this is less about Ghost’s track success than his journey to self-worth. Readers (track stars or slowpokes) will find that the redemptive relationship among a supportive mom, a skillful coach who believes in second (and third) chances, and a determined young man comes through louder than the final “BOOM” of the starter gun.  -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books ―
October 2016

When it comes to providing mirrors for contemporary African American teens, Reynolds (When I Was the Greatest, rev. 1/14; The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15) has proven himself to be an emerging leader. His latest offering is the first in
a projected series about four middle-school athletes and their efforts to better themselves, on and off the track. The first leg of this literary relay belongs to our title character. Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is a young man with a taste for sunflower seeds, Guinness World Records, and people watching; he also has a proclivity for getting into trouble, fighting, and running, stemming from the night his father (now in prison) pulled a gun on him and his mother. When Ghost happens upon the citywide track team, the Defenders, at practice and impulsively bests its fastest sprinter, the coach sees potential in the seventh grader. Ghost’s path to seeing the same potential in himself is littered with stumbling blocks, including a pair of expensive silver running shoes Ghost can’t afford but is convinced will help
him run faster. Reynolds has created a wonderfully dynamic character in Ghost; his first-person narrative is one with which young readers will readily identify. Conflicting emotions are presented honestly and without judgment—while Ghost works through the trauma of his father’s violent act, he is also able to hold on to positive memories. Reynolds’s introduction of the series characters—Ghost, Lu, Patina, and Sunny—will have readers rooting for the entire Defenders team. -- Horn Book Magazine ―
November/December 2016
Make simple joys affordable

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books; First Edition (August 30, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1481450158
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1481450157
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10+ years, from customers
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 730L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 5 - 6
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 4,144 ratings

About the author

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The first name bits:

What Jason knows is that there are a lot — A LOT — of people, young, old, and in-between, who hate reading. He knows that many of these book haters are boys. He knows that many of these book-hating boys, don't actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys, first of all, you're reading this Jason's master plan is already working (muahahahahahaha) and second of all, know that Jason totally feels you. He REALLY does. Because even though he's a writer, he hates reading boring books too.

So here's what he plans to do: NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS.

That's it, and that's all.

Now, for the last name bits:

Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Jason’s many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Correta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
4,144 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 16, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry In Motion
By ricardo is reading on February 16, 2020
Castle Crenshaw — who goes by Ghost — has been running for most of his life. At least ever since his father's gun went off. It was pointed in the general direction of Ghost and his mother, and, like in all track races, the shot was a signal to start running. His father went to jail for it. They went back to a home that stopped feeling like home (they sleep in the living room, near the front door, just in case something else happens and they need to run again). And Ghost feels as if he never stopped. Only this restlessness he has felt inside has no real outlet, and it bubbles up, bursting outwards at times of stress and conflict. He lashes out, and gets in trouble for it often.⠀

And then one day, taking the usual long way back to his house, he stops to watch a group of kids his age during a track meet. He scoffs at the notion that people have to work at running, which comes so naturally to him. So he decides to show them up by beating their most promising and arrogant stars in an impromptu race. The coach is impressed and asks him to join, which Ghost, with some reluctance, eventually does.⠀

The feeling of running, Reynolds has said, is of your body going through trauma, as it fights against exhaustion and suffocation. Running is about feeling like you are about to die, and getting used to that sensation. And running is about breaking through, and overcoming that feeling.⠀

Castle Crenshaw — who goes by Ghost — has been running for most of his life. At least ever since his father's gun went off. It was pointed in the general direction of Ghost and his mother, and, like in all track races, the shot was a signal to start running. His father went to jail for it. They went back to a home that stopped feeling like home (they sleep in the living room, near the front door, just in case something else happens and they need to run again). And Ghost feels as if he never stopped. Only this restlessness he has felt inside has no real outlet, and it bubbles up, bursting outwards at times of stress and conflict. He lashes out, and gets in trouble for it often.⠀

And then one day, taking the usual long way back to his house, he stops to watch a group of kids his age during a track meet. He scoffs at the notion that people have to work at running, which comes so naturally to him. So he decides to show them up by beating their most promising and arrogant stars in an impromptu race. The coach is impressed and asks him to join, which Ghost, with some reluctance, eventually does.⠀

The feeling of running, Reynolds has said, is of your body going through trauma, as it fights against exhaustion and suffocation. Running is about feeling like you are about to die, and getting used to that sensation. And running is about breaking through, and overcoming that feeling.⠀

Running is also, in Reynolds' hands, an exceedingly useful metaphor — not only for the particular issues that Ghost faces, but for life in general. Because what is life if not just a series of races you have to break through in order to breathe again? For Ghost, running is initially a means of escape, useful only when he wants to put as much distance between his problems and himself. He doesn't find the act itself uncomfortable — his life is suffocating enough, after all, what is a little sprinting compared to the day to day? "Running ain't nothing I ever had to practice," he boasts at the beginning. "It's just something I knew how to do." It's only after he joins the team and it becomes an increasingly important aspect of his life that he properly begins to feel this suffocation, as he starts to come to terms with the heavy things he's been carrying inside — this scream, as he calls it — for most of his life.⠀

Ghost is about a lot of things, but it is mainly about dealing and living with trauma. There is a talk Jason Reynolds gave where he told the story about a childhood friend who, decades after the fact, recognized that he had been traumatized at a young age, and that he just went through life as if these feelings were normal, only to later realize that they were not supposed to be, and how surprised he was at this understanding. No one, you see, made him aware of the fact. It's a particularly cruel problem, and one we can only address by paying attention to the people around us. This is what Reynolds work does for his audience — his books are all about being seen. In this novel, seeing one another is what Ghost's teammates do, as they accept him as one of their own. It's what his mother does, who, despite demanding job, studies at night in order to give them a better future. It's what Mr. Charles, the elderly owner of the local store shop does every time Ghost pays his store a visit and they fall into an established, familiar — and familial — routine. And most importantly, it's what his track coach does, seeing in Ghost some of the same struggles he faced growing up. The kind of struggles that makes you want to disappear, like a ghost, and run away, instead of being present, the burning in your chest a reminder that you are still alive and able to run free. Ghost may not entirely realize the full extent of his trauma, but he is smart enough to know when the people around him care for and want the best for him, which in turn, of course, makes him want to be better for them. "You can't run away from who you are," the Coach tells him at one point, "but what you can do is run toward who you want to be."⠀

The novel ends with a different kind of shot that makes Ghost run. Only this time, instead of running away, you are certain and hopeful that he's running free, breaking through the struggle, towards a better future.⠀

Jason Reynolds has written yet another lyrical and poetic book chockfull of meaning, and which helps us see these kids in a better and more understanding light. I loved reading it.

Ghost is about a lot of things, but it is mainly about dealing and living with trauma. There is a talk Jason Reynolds gave where he told the story about a childhood friend who, decades after the fact, recognized that he had been traumatized at a young age, and that he just went through life as if these feelings were normal, only to later realize that they were not supposed to be, and how surprised he was at this understanding. No one, you see, made him aware of the fact. It's a particularly cruel problem, and one we can only address by paying attention to the people around us. This is what Reynolds work does for his audience — his books are all about being seen. In this novel, seeing one another is what Ghost's teammates do, as they accept him as one of their own. It's what his mother does, who, despite demanding job, studies at night in order to give them a better future. It's what Mr. Charles, the elderly owner of the local store shop (who, in a brilliant example of Reynold's humor, looks like a white James Brown) does every time Ghost pays his store a visit and they fall into an established, familiar — and familial — routine. And most importantly, it's what his track coach does, seeing in Ghost some of the same struggles he faced growing up. The kind of struggles that makes you want to disappear, like a ghost, and run away, instead of being present, the burning in your chest a reminder that you are still alive and able to run free. Ghost may not entirely realize the full extent of his trauma, but he is smart enough to know when the people around him care for and want the best for him, which in turn, of course, makes him want to be better for them. "You can't run away from who you are," the Coach tells him at one point, "but what you can do is run toward who you want to be."⠀

The novel ends with a different kind of shot that makes Ghost run. Only this time, instead of running away, you are certain and hopeful that he's running free, breaking through the struggle, towards a better future.⠀

Jason Reynolds has written yet another lyrical and poetic book chockfull of meaning, and which helps us see these kids in a better and more understanding light. I loved reading it.
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