Book Review: The Ghosts & Jamal by Bridget Blankley

The Ghosts & Jamal“It had been good to climb, as good as anything he had ever done. It had not been so good to fall, but he would recover. All in all, he thought, it was worth the fall, just to have climbed the tree.” – The Ghosts & Jamal

Jamal is a thirteen year old boy in rural Nigeria whose favorite drinks include Fanta and Sprite. He seems like everyone else except that he lives with epilepsy. His epileptic episodes are misinterpreted by his family as “bad spirits” coming upon him. So Jamal lives apart from his family, in a separate hut on the outskirts of his village. This isolation will ultimately save Jamal’s life during a terrorist attack on his village. I read Jamal’s story in one sitting. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I was worried for this young man – for his health, for his safety, and for his feelings – as he set out on his own to try to escape the attackers and to find his grandfather, or anyone else who survived, and might be able to help him. I feared for him and wanted to help and protect him.

Jamal’s story is one of survival but also one of bravery. Setting out into a village that has been destroyed with empty deadly gas canisters lying around is a scary thing to do. But Jamal does it. Being rescued and taken in by strangers who speak in strange languages and live differently is not an easy thing to do. But Jamal gets through it. Jamal encounters many people on his journey, some kind, some cruel, some afraid, some helpful, some young, and some old.

I became thoroughly engrossed in this story and wanted to find out what would happen next on Jamal’s journey. I enjoyed getting to know him and my heart ached for him at various moments throughout the book.  I won’t give away the ending of the story. I’ll just say that my heart skipped a beat as I read through the last few pages and my jaw dropped as I read the last few sentences. What a powerful story. I think this book should be shared in classroom settings to spark conversation around different cultures and bravery and doing what’s right.

The Ghosts & Jamal releases in February 2018 from HopeRoad Publishing.

HopeRoad Publishing is an independent publisher with a special focus on literature from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Learn more about their current and upcoming titles by visiting their website:


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