My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A perfectly written follow up to Reynolds’ middle grade smash hit GHOST, this title is narrated by Patina, another member of the Defenders Track team.
Thank you to Atheneum/Simon Kids for providing me with a review copy of this book – all opinions are my own.
I’ll start by saying to please read GHOST first, or encourage the kids/students in your life to read GHOST first. Of course, you CAN read PATINA first, and the story won’t be ruined, but then GHOST will be ruined for you and I 100% guarantee you that after reading PATINA, you’ll want to have read GHOST. So, if you haven’t read it yet, go grab yourself a copy of GHOST, settle in, read it, then come back to PATINA.
In GHOST, Reynolds introduced readers to a middle school boy nicknamed Ghost, who ends up joining the Defenders track team. It is an excellent story – go read the summary and reviews of it – I gave it 5 stars. It ends with Ghost running a track race……and seriously just ENDS. You finish the book not knowing how the race ends, and it is excruciating!
Patina picks up where Ghost left off, with Ghost’s race. This time, however, Patty (Patina) is narrating the story as another member of the Defenders. I absolutely fell in love with Patina, maybe even more than I fell in love with Ghost. I’m not sure if it’s because as a female protagonist it’s easier to relate, or if Reynolds just wrote her so exquisitely that it was inevitable, but I LOVE this character. You learn quickly that her family life is pretty complicated and she’s struggling a bit to assimilate to a fancier school and living with her aunt and uncle. As she describes being a caretaker for both her sister and her mother (I won’t tell you why – go read the book!) I could relate to her even as a 30-something adult – caretaking is a universal issue and it is heartbreaking when kids have to fill that role.
Patty is achingly sincere and sweet, but she has a tough side that comes out as a defense in certain situations, sometimes getting her into trouble. As she tries to reconcile her new academy school with her old public school, and describes the neighborhoods in the city she lives in, readers can tell just how aware of class she is. Race too, for that matter. Patty ain’t no junk, as she says, but running may be the only way to prove that.
This series is required for middle grade libraries and classrooms – my students just loved Ghost last year and have been eagerly awaiting Patina’s story. When I took my own kids to see Reynolds speak at a local library last winter, they were SO excited to hear him talk about the continuation of the Defenders team story – I can’t wait to see who the next Track book is based on! And there had better be a next book since this one ends……….just like that.