GHOST BOYS

Jewell Parker Rhodes

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

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

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.

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A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

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

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.

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  • Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Paperback
  • April 2018
  • 224 Pages
  • 9781549168192

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$21.98

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About Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of Ninth Ward, a Coretta Scott King honor book, Sugar, winner of the Jane Adams Peace Association book award, Bayou Magic, and Towers Falling. She has also written many award-winning books for adults.

Author Website

Praise

New York Times Bestseller
An IndieBound Bestseller
The #1 Kids’ Indies Next Pick

“This was one of my most anticipated 2018 books and I was not disappointed. A must read.”Angie Thomas, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give

“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

“An excellent novel that delves into the timely topic of racism… with the question of whether or not we really have come far when dealing with race relations.”School Library Connection, starred review

“A timely, challenging book that’s worthy of a read, further discussion, and action.”Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think the novel begins with Jerome’s death? How did the alternating time periods affect your reading of the story?

2. Why does Carlos bring a toy gun to school? Why might he feel like it is the best way to protect himself from bullies?

3. Why does Jerome take the toy gun even though it feels wrong?

4. Had you heard about Emmett Till before reading Ghost Boys? If so, what did you know about him? What did you learn about him?

5. Why is Sarah the only person who can see Jerome and Emmett?

6. At the court hearing, the defending lawyer accuses Officer Moore of “racial bias” (page 86). What does he mean? How can a person be biased without realizing it?

7. At the hearing, Officer Moore says, “I was in fear for my life” (page 131), and that is why he shot Jerome even though Jerome was running away. Jerome wonders, “When truth’s a feeling, can it be both? Both true and untrue?” (page 118). Why is the truth so hard to determine in these situations?

8. How did you feel when the judge announced that Officer Moore would not be charged with a crime? Why do you think Jewell Parker Rhodes chose this verdict?

9. Before Jerome moves on, he convinces Sarah to speak to her father about fighting racial prejudice even though she doesn’t want to. Why is this Jerome’s final act?

10. At the end of the book, Jerome realizes that he and the other ghost boys are able to communicate with certain people so they can “bear witness” to the ghost boys’ stories. What does this mean? How does bearing witness tie into the statement, “Only the living can make the world better” (page 203)?

11. After reading this novel, how can you make the world better?

Excerpt

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