cover image Ghost Train

Ghost Train

Jess Mowry. Henry Holt & Company, $14.95 (164pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-4440-9

The author of the explosive Way Past Cool now takes aim at a younger audience, offering another gritty, keenly perceptive portrait of inner-city life but framing it as a ghostly tale. Haitian immigrant Remi knows that life will be different in Oakland, Calif., where refrigerators, hot running water and TV are taken for granted. But when he and his parents move into an apartment in a ramshackle Victorian house, the last thing the 13-year-old expects is to be haunted by a recurring vision of murder. Every night, while his mother and father sleep, Remi (who has ""always had a certain affinity for the supernatural"") hears a ""fantome"" train ""panting puffs like the breath of some huge jungle beast."" From his window, he witnesses the ghosts of two railroad men, one white and one African American, acting out a deadly scenario. He and his streetwise neighbor, Niya, draw together to uncover an injustice half a century old. Containing more substance than most thrillers for this age group, this horror story is underscored by strong social commentary on poverty, waste and materialism. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)