For Jerome Rogers, living in his low-income Chicago neighborhood can be dangerous, but so can going to middle school. There, Jerome is the target of three bullies, Eddie, Snap, and Mike, who enjoy doing things to him like dumping out his backpack, hitting him on the head, or pulling down his pants. Jerome has no friends, and eats his lunch in a bathroom, locker room or supply closet - hiding out alone.

That is, until Carlos arrives. Carlos is the new kid in school and Jerome unwillingly ends up showing him the ropes to avoid the bullies. But when they are discovered in a boy's bathroom eating lunch, Carlos pulls a gun on the bullies, Eddie, Snap, and Mike. Not realizing it's a toy gun, the bullies back down.

Carlos gives the gun to Jerome. He doesn’t really want it, but takes it anyway. One day, he is allowed to go out and play and he takes the toy gun with him. Jerome is playing an imaginary game of good guy/bad guy in a rundown park when police arrive. An officer shoots him in the back when he tries to run away.

Jerome is killed on the spot. The officer claims he had no choice but to shoot, that he thought Jerome was bigger, older and had a real gun, and despite shooting him from his patrol car, he said he feared for his life.

The chapters switch between Jerome's real life when he was alive and his life now, as a ghost. He is privy to seeing things he never would have seen when he was alive. Jerome goes to his home and observes what life is now like for his – family. He also finds himself in the bedroom of Sarah the daughter of the police officer who shot him.

Jerome is learning about what happened to him and about the aftermath. He must face racism head on. He encounters other ghost boys from as far back as 1955 who help him along his way.

Even though this book sounds horribly depressing, the author leaves the reader with a reason to hope that change is possible. Read to find out who the agent of change becomes for Jerome, and how you too can be such an agent.

IndyPL_TammieB's rating:
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