Booklist Reviews 2016 September #1
*Starred Review* Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw has been running for three years, ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother. When he gets recruited by a local track coach for a championship team, they strike a deal: if Ghost can stop getting into fights at school, he can run for the Defenders, but one altercation and he's gone. Despite Ghost's best intentions, everyone always has something to say about his raggedy shoes, homemade haircut, ratty clothes, or his neighborhood, and he doesn't last 24 hours without a brawl. Will Coach and his mom give him another chance to be part of something bigger than himself, or is he simply destined to explode? With his second fantastic middle-grade novel of the year (As Brave as You, 2016), the ferociously talented Reynolds perfectly captures both the pain and earnest longing of a young boy. The first in the four-book Track series, this is raw and lyrical, and as funny as it is heartbreaking. It tackles issues such as theft, bullying, and domestic violence with candor and bravery, while opening a door for empathy and discussion. An absolute must-read for anyone who has ever wondered how fast you must be to run away from yourself. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Is anyone else putting out so many stellar books so quickly? The author of The Boy in the Black Suit and All American Boys (both 2015) keeps dashing along. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2017 Spring
In this series-starter, Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw is an African American young man with a proclivity for getting into trouble, fighting, and running, stemming from an incident with his now-imprisoned father. When Ghost impulsively races and bests the citywide track team's fastest sprinter, the coach sees potential in the seventh grader. Wonderfully dynamic Ghost's first-person narrative is one with which young readers will readily identify. Copyright 2017 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2016 #6
When it comes to providing mirrors for contemporary African American teens, Reynolds (When I Was the Greatest, rev. 1/14; The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15) has proven himself to be an emerging leader. His latest offering is the first in a projected series about four middle-school athletes and their efforts to better themselves, on and off the track. The first leg of this literary relay belongs to our title character. Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw is a young man with a taste for sunflower seeds, Guinness World Records, and people-watching; he also has a proclivity for getting into trouble, fighting, and running, stemming from the night his father (now in prison) pulled a gun on him and his mother. When Ghost happens upon the citywide track team, the Defenders, at practice and impulsively bests its fastest sprinter, the coach sees potential in the seventh grader. Ghost's path to seeing the same potential in himself is littered with stumbling blocks, including a pair of expensive silver running shoes Ghost can't afford but is convinced will help him run faster. Reynolds has created a wonderfully dynamic character in Ghost; his first-person narrative is one with which young readers will readily identify. Conflicting emotions are presented honestly and without judgment—while Ghost works through the trauma of his father's violent act, he is also able to hold on to positive memories. Reynolds's introduction of the series characters—Ghost, Lu, Patina, and Sunny—will have readers rooting for the entire Defenders team. eboni njoku Copyright 2016 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.