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Ghost (1) (Track) Paperback – August 29, 2017

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a Carnegie Medal winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, a two-time Odyssey Award Honoree, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. He’s also the 2020–2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His many books include All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); When I Was the GreatestThe Boy in the Black SuitStampedAs Brave as YouFor Every One; the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu); Look Both WaysStuntboy, in the MeantimeAin’t Burned All the Bright, and My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. (both cowritten with Jason Griffin); and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: World Records 1 WORLD RECORDS
CHECK THIS OUT. This dude named Andrew Dahl holds the world record for blowing up the most balloons… with his nose. Yeah. That’s true. Not sure how he found out that was some kinda special talent, and I can’t even imagine how much snot be in those balloons, but hey, it’s a thing and Andrew’s the best at it. There’s also this lady named Charlotte Lee who holds the record for owning the most rubber ducks. No lie. Here’s what’s weird about that: Why would you even want one rubber duck, let alone 5,631? I mean,
come on. And me, well, I probably hold the world record for knowing about the most world records. That, and for eating the most sunflower seeds.

“Let me guess, sunflower seeds,” Mr. Charles practically shouts from behind the counter of what he calls his “country store,” even though we live in a city. Mr. Charles, who, by the way, looks just like James Brown if James Brown were white, has been ringing me up for sunflower seeds five days a week for about, let me think… since the fourth grade, which is when Ma took the hospital job. So for about three years now. He’s also hard of hearing, which when my mom used to say this, I always thought she was saying “harder hearing,” which made no sense at all to me. I don’t know why she just didn’t say “almost deaf.” Maybe because “hard of hearing” is more like hospital talk, which was probably rubbing off on her. But, yeah, Mr. Charles can barely hear a thing, which is why he’s always yelling at everybody and everybody’s always yelling at him. His store is a straight-up scream fest, not to mention the extra sound effects from the loud TV he keeps behind the counter—cowboy movies on repeat. Mr. Charles is also the guy who gave me this book,
Guinness World Records, which is where I found out about Andrew Dahl and Charlotte Lee. He tells me I can set a record one day. A real record. Be one of the world’s greatest somethings. Maybe. But I know one thing, Mr. Charles has to hold the record for saying, Let me guess, sunflower seeds, because he says that every single time I come in, which means I probably also already hold the record for responding, loudly, the exact same way.

“Lemme guess, one dollar.” That’s my comeback. Said it a gazillion times. Then I slap a buck in the palm of his wrinkly hand, and he puts the bag of seeds in mine.

After that, I continue on my slow-motion journey, pausing again only when I get to the bus stop. But this bus stop ain’t just any bus stop. It’s the one that’s directly across the street from the gym. I just sit there with the other people waiting for the bus, except I’m never actually waiting for it. The bus gets you home fast, and I don’t want that. I just go there to look at the people working out. See, the gym across the street has this big window—like the whole wall is a window—and they have those machines that make you feel like you walking up steps and so everybody just be facing the bus stop, looking all crazy like they’re about to pass out. And trust me, there ain’t nothing funnier than that. So I check that out for a little while like it’s some kind of movie:
The About to Pass Out Show, starring stair-stepper person one through ten. I know this all probably sounds kinda weird, maybe even creepy, but it’s something to do when you’re bored. Best part about sitting there is tearing into my sunflower seeds like they’re theater popcorn.

About the sunflower seeds. I used to just put a whole bunch of them in my mouth at the same time, suck all the salt off, then spit them all out machine-gun-style. I could’ve probably set a world record in that, too. But now, I’ve matured. Now I take my time, moving them around, positioning them for the perfect bite to pop open the shell, then carefully separating the seed from it with my tongue, then—and this is the hard part—keeping the little seed safe in the space between my teeth and tongue, I spit the shells out. And finally, after
all that, I chew the seed up. I’m like a master at it, even though, honestly, sunflower seeds don’t taste like nothing. I’m not even sure they’re really worth all the hassle. But I like the process anyway.

My dad used to eat sunflower seeds too. That’s where I get it from. But he used to chew the whole thing up. The shells, the seeds, everything. Just devour them like some kind of beast. When I was really young, I used to ask him if a sunflower was going to grow inside of him since he ate the seeds so much. He was always watching some kind of game, like football or basketball, and he’d turn to me just for a second, just long enough to not miss a play, and say, “Sunflowers are all up in me, kid.” Then he’d shake up the seeds in his palm like dice, before throwing another bunch in his grill to chomp down on.

But let me tell you, my dad was lying. Wasn’t no sunflowers growing in him. Couldn’t have been. I don’t know a whole lot about sunflowers, but I know they’re pretty and girls like them, and I know the word sunflower is made up of two good words, and that man ain’t got two good words in him, or anything that any girl would like, because girls don’t like men who try to shoot them and their son. And that’s the kind of man he was.

It was three years ago when my dad lost it. When the liquor made him meaner than he’d ever been. Every other night he would become a different person, like he’d morph into someone crazy, but this one night my mother decided to finally fight back. This one night everything went worse. I had my head sandwiched between the mattress and my pillow, something I got used to doing whenever they were going at it, when my mom crashed into my bedroom.

“We gotta go,” she said, yanking the covers off the bed. And when I didn’t move fast enough, she yelled, “Come on!”

Next thing I knew, she was dragging me down the hallway, my feet tripping over themselves. And that’s when I looked back and saw him, my dad, staggering from the bedroom, his lips bloody, a pistol in his hand.

“Don’t make me do this, Terri!” he angry-begged, but me and my mom kept rolling. The sound of the gun cocking. The sound of the door unlocking. As soon as she swung the door open, my dad fired a shot. He was shooting at us! My dad!
My dad was actually shooting… at… US! His wife and his boy! I didn’t look to see what he hit, mainly because I was scared it was gonna be me. Or Ma. The sound was big, and sharp enough to make me feel like my brain was gonna pop in my head, enough to make my heart hiccup. But the craziest thing was, I felt like the shot—loudest sound I ever heard—made my legs move even faster. I don’t know if that’s possible, but that’s definitely what it seemed like.

My mom and I kept running, down the staircase into the street, breaking into the darkness with death chasing behind us. We ran and ran and ran, until finally we came up on Mr. Charles’s store, which, luckily for us, stays open 24/7. Mr. Charles took one look at me and my mom, out of breath, crying, barefoot in our pajamas, and hid us in his storage room while he called the cops. We stayed there all night.

I haven’t seen my dad since. Ma said the cops said that when they got to the house, he was sitting outside on the steps, shirtless, with the pistol beside him, guzzling beer, eating sunflower seeds, waiting. Like he wanted to get caught. Like it was no big deal. They gave him ten years in prison, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’m happy about that or not. Sometimes, I wish he would’ve gotten forever in jail. Other times, I wish he was home on the couch, watching the game, shaking seeds in his hand. Either way, one thing is for sure: that was the night I learned how to run. So when I was done sitting at the bus stop in front of the gym, and came across all those kids on the track at the park, practicing, I had to go see what was going on, because running ain’t nothing I ever had to practice. It’s just something I knew how to do.
A gift for whatever they need

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books; Reprint edition (August 29, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 208 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1481450166
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1481450164
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10+ years, from customers
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 730L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 5 - 6
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.13 x 0.5 x 7.63 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 4,147 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
4,147 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 16, 2020
Customer image
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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Red Bus Book Lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and thought-provoking MG novel
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great insight into another side of life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reasons to run....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for school library
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 6, 2019