This is a truly incredible book that features a young man who is trying to figure out who he is meant to be. The story is short and fast-paced, and would make an excellent whole-class read-aloud for grades 4 through 7.
Chapter book, fiction
Interest Level: grades 5-8; Reading Level: 4.6
5 out of 5 stars
Castle Crenshaw goes by the nickname of Ghost. It’s a nickname he gave to himself on the night he learned how to run. That was the night his father pointed a gun at him and his mother:
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.
Years after that horrible evening, Ghost’s father is in prison and the young man is still trying to come to terms with how that night changed him. Ghost comes across a track team practicing for the Junior Olympics. As he watches the kids race, he is especially interested in a boy who is wearing the latest racing clothes and shoes. Ghost believes he can beat this fancy kid in a race, so he challenges him while wearing jeans and high tops. The race is so close that the track coach takes notice of Ghost and offers him a chance to join the team.
Trouble seems to find Ghost, so whether he will screw up this one shot at being part of the team keeps the reader spellbound. That’s one aspect that makes Reynolds’ story telling so captivating. The story is told by Ghost, letting us in on his thoughts and how they shape his actions. Ghost is not a perfect character who is simply misunderstood. He makes some poor choices, but readers are privy to his thoughts and the choices he makes seem real and understandable. This book shows that sometimes good people make bad decisions.
While the story is about running, it’s also about growing and having people believe in you. It’s about getting second chances and making friends. It’s about the idea that “you can’t run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.”
This book features many different topics that teachers can use for classroom conversations. It is the first in a series of track books by Reynolds.
Ghost: Track: Book 1
Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2016