04 May 2022 Share
Teen readers vote for story about racial injustice, police brutality and hope for the future
The 2022 Trinity Schools Book Award was awarded to American author Jewell Parker Rhodes for her novel Ghost Boys at a pre-recorded ceremony released on April 25th.
Chosen by the pupils at 22 participating schools from a shortlist of six titles, Ghost Boys is, unusually, narrated by a ghost after 12-year-old Jerome is shot dead by a White police officer for brandishing a toy gun. Jerome becomes one of the ‘ghost boys’ – Black boys and teens who have been killed as a result of racial prejudice. The only person in the ‘real world’ who he can communicate with is Sarah, the daughter of the police officer who stands on trial for his murder. The story shows the devastation that Jerome’s killing brings to his family and community, and the events that led up to it, switching throughout between before and after, ‘alive’ and ‘dead’. Parker Rhodes powerfully interweaves contemporary Black Lives Matter activism with historical injustice as real-life figures such as Emmett Till appear in the book.
“Ghost Boys is so important and it took everything out of me to write that book,” said Jewell Parker Rhodes. “One of the things that kept me going was that there were youth in this world who would maybe understand what I was trying to say, what I was trying to do in terms of speaking truth to power: that racism is an ill, a scourge on humanity. I am so happy that readers have connected with this message of change and bearing witness.”
The Trinity Schools Book Award not only encourages young people to read and discuss good quality contemporary fiction, but also asks them to review and, uniquely, to respond creatively to the shortlisted books. The creative responses received this year, which include short films, contemporary dance, poetry, showstopper cakes and Lego constructions, demonstrate the extent to which pupils have engaged with the stories. This year’s winning entry, inspired by Elizabeth Laird’s refugee story Welcome to Nowhere and Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel The Arrival, is a particularly poignant short film that dramatises the experience of having to flee one’s home. You can watch it here.
The full TSBA 2022 shortlist was:
Next year’s theme is ‘Facing The Future’.
The shortlist will be announced in June.