Ghost by Jason Reynolds

The Great American Read is an eight-part television series celebrating and discussing America’s top 100 novels as chosen by a survey of approximately 7,200 people.  Americans can vote on their favorite book once a day until the winner is revealed on October 23.  Here at Pages Unbound, we’ll be joining the fun by reading, reviewing, and discussing some of the nominees!


Goodreads: Ghost
Series: Track #1
Source: Library
Published: 2016


Castle Cranshaw has been running ever since the night his father pulled a gun on him and his mother.  But he never thought to run track until the day he decides to race a hot-shot sprinter and ends up being recruited.  Suddenly, running track means everything to him.  But will the anger burning inside ruin his chance?

Star Divider


“So I guess…I guess the only other person I’m really scared of, maybe…is me.”

Ghost is a heartwarming story about the ability of sports–and kindness–to raise us all.  Castle Cranshaw, privately nicknamed Ghost, is the type of youth his teachers probably want to call “troubled.”  Ever since his father went to jail, he has bottled up anger inside.  Anger that comes out when the boys at school make fun of him.  His mother is worried about him, but when Ghost discovers track, he suddenly realizes he has found something he wants to keep, even if that means keeping his cool at school.  His coach’s generosity as well as his teammates’ support will repeatedly remind him of the person he really wants to be,  giving readers a feel-good narrative about a boy determined to become better than he is.

Ghost’s personal journey remains at the center of the book, with the possibility of winning a meet never really being a major consideration.  This sets the story apart from other sports narratives, which typically vindicate a character’s commitment and sacrifices by rewarding them with victory.  Ghost, however, primarily values the culture of his team and the support from his family.  Regardless of how he ranks at a meet, readers know that Ghost has already won specifically because of this attitude: he runs because he loves running, not because he wants accolades.  The book almost seems to asking its readers to do the same.  Become better people by lifting each other up and focusing on what you love.

Ghost will appeal to a wide audience: middle-grade readers, sports fans, and people who love rooting for the underdog.  Its lovable cast of characters, uplifting message, and engaging narration (Ghost feels like a good friend with a great sense of humor) all seem guaranteed to capture readers.  So don’t just read it because it made the list of Great American Read nominees.  Read it because it is a truly good story.

About the Author

Jason Reynolds is an American author of middle-grade and YA fiction. Ghost, the first book in the best-selling Track series, was a National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature.  You can read more about Reynolds and his books on his website.

Previous posts on the Great American Read

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