Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Pub. Date: August 30, 2016
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
Patina by Jason Reynolds
Pub. Date: August 29, 2017
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Castle Crenshaw, aka Ghost, is a natural-born runner. He knows it, but he chooses to play basketball instead and has dreams of grandeur, even though he’s not very good. One day when he stumbles across a track practice he sees Lu, a runner who thinks he’s all that and clearly the star of the team. On a whim, and to the coach’s disbelief, he lines up next to him wanting to teach the “star” a lesson. He’s clearly a talented runner with potential if he loses the baggy jeans and shoes that are not for running. When the coach recruits him for the team, his first team, he’s about to meet some competition, make some friends and realize that running can bring him joy. In a heartwarming and foot-stomping promising new start to the Track series, Jason Reynolds proves that he can write a solid quality story in under 200 pages, while shifting to a younger audience, retaining the values and strong characters we love from his other novels.
Patina, aka Patty, is a strong young runner who puts family first and running second. She has grown close to her sister and become a sort of mother figure to her; they see their mom on most Sundays, but she is unable to take care of them due to diabetes taking her legs. Running is a release for her, and when tragedy strikes, it becomes a coping mechanism. She’s a sweet and strong young teen, and you’ll be rooting for her throughout the book. A companion to Ghost but very much its own story, Patina is another winner from Jason Reynolds, who can write characters who become people you feel like you know.
These two books were incredibly solid reads. Both short, but definitely long enough for a satisfying story, they leave you missing the characters and wanting to spend more time with them. I’m not going to lie, when this series was announced, I didn’t know how Jason was going to make a running team into a four book series. Instead of focusing completely on the running, he brings in the titular characters’ lives and personal struggles into the story, and writes them in a three-dimensional way that really lets you feel for them and connect with them. The richness of Jason’s characters is what he’s best at; he has said he draws from his experiences and the ones of those around him growing up, and these influences propel his stories to the next level. His storytelling is masterful as well; when you think about it, both of these books take place in about a week but don’t feel rushed or too short. They have a little bit of everything; family, perseverance, struggles, and the new relationships and bonds that the characters make are a really nice component; they aren’t just runners, they are a team of runners.
Ghost and Patina are excellent novels from an author who keeps writing masterpieces, and I am so excited to read the last two books in the series: Sunny and Lu.