Rhodes Parker, Jewell. Ghost Boys. (2019). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Summary: A single mistaken moment is all it took for 12-year-old Jerome a Chicagoan, to lose his life. In hindsight his spirit never dies and becomes the voice of reason. The voice of reason turns out to be a ghostly connection to the 1955 historical civil rights’ wrongful death of Emmett Till that took place in Mississippi. Jerome who is a vibrant young boy and son to working class parents meets his fate when he is observed to have a gun. It turns out to be toy gun that unfortunately cost him his life. In the afterlife Jerome develops a relationship with Emmett with whom he has multiple conversations with regarding wrongful death, racism, and law enforcement. The big question is “Will the police officer who killed him confess and be truthful?”. Jerome continues to be present in his ghostly state and recognizes how his family is coping. He also becomes intrigued by his ability to tap into the thoughts of the police officers’ daughter. In the end, how much influence will she truly have on her fathers’ decision to do the right thing?
Strengths: This is a wonderful presentation of “mistaken”. Jerome’s afterlife is the life that truly makes this story memorable as it correlates to the life of Emmett Till.
Weaknesses: It will be helpful if the reader has had prior knowledge on the history of Emmett Till and the incident that took place in Mississippi in 1955. The book gives the reader some idea but the details will give them a better connection.
Thoughts: This is a clever way to engage students to talk about racism. It also very ingenious that both Jerome and Emmett were victims who were born in Chicago, Illinois.