Seventh grader Castle Crenshaw, aka Ghost, can run. For him, sprinting isn't something he's trained for, it's just something he can do--something he's had to do. Because he's not one of those rich kids he sees practicing on the local track after school. And his earliest memory of sprinting as a gun went off isn't from a race.
Ever since his dad chased Ghost and his mom from their apartment years ago, pointing a gun straight at them, something in Ghost changed. Not something obvious. More like a scream that's caught inside him, anger and fire that can spring to the surface at a moment's notice.
When he gets recruited for the Defenders, one of the best track teams in the city, the whole thing feels like some scene from a sports movie. Ghost can run, yeah, but that doesn't mean he wants to spend hours training with a bunch of kids he's never met--kids whose clothes and shoes and just about everything make it clear that they'll never be friends. But (somehow) his mom agrees to let him join, and before Ghost knows what's happened, Coach has promised he won't get into any trouble at school if he wants to stay on the team.
Here's the thing: Ghost tries. He really does. But when kids like Brandon Simmons, the biggest bully in his class, start mouthing off at him, sometimes he just loses it. How's he supposed to be the bigger person--stay calm--and still stand up for himself, anyway?
As Ghost attempts to stay cool at school and figure out the new track team, he starts to get to know the other newbies, who have more in common with him than he thinks.
But as pressure rises from all sides, each mistake has bigger consequences, and he wonders how far he'll go to fit in.
Maybe he needs to come to peace with his past before he can tackle his dreams for the future.
I've heard a lot about the Track series, but I only read Ghost recently--I've never done track, and I thought it would be one of those books which is centered purely on a sport, which I don't usually enjoy. After reading several of Jason Reynolds' other books and loving them, though, I decided to give them a try, and (of course) I was completely blown away. Reynolds has that rare ability to truly capture the voice of a middle schooler, and reading each book in the Track series is like having a conversation with a friend--or seeing yourself. Track plays an important role in each book, but that's certainly not all they're about; school, friendships, and finding yourself are all major components as well, just to name a few. There's a perfect balance between depth and humor, and I love the way that the "newbies"--Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu--connect over the course of the series. An outstanding series, which I would highly recommend to readers ages ten and up--each book is about a different newbie, and they're each distinct and different, yet all are amazing.