Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Aug 29, 2017 - Juvenile Fiction - 240 pages
A New York Times Notable Children’s Book

A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons in this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist Ghost by New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this? As the stress builds up, it’s building up a pretty bad attitude as well. Coach won’t tolerate bad attitude. No day, no way. And now he wants Patty to run relay…where you have to depend on other people? How’s she going to do THAT?

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lilibrarian - LibraryThing

Patina has joined the track team, and always wants to be the fastest. Her family is having issues - her father has died, and her mother lost her legs to diabetes. Patina and her sister are cared for by an aunt and uncle. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - penguinasana - LibraryThing

Another outstanding read from Jason Reynolds. The second book in the Track series picks up where Ghost left off, this time focusing on another member of the track team, Patina "Patti". While the ... Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19
Section 20
Section 21

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 22
Section 23
Section 24
Section 25

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2017)


TO DO: Everything (including forgetting about the race and braiding my sister''s hair)

AIN''T NO SUCH thing as a false start. Because false means fake, and ain''t no fake starts in track. Either you start or you don''t. Either you run or you don''t. No in-between. Now, there can be a wrong start. That makes more sense to me. Means you just start at the wrong time. Just jump early and break out running with no one there running with you. No competition except for your own brain that swears there''s other people on your heels. But ain''t nobody there. Not for real. Ain''t no chaser. That''s what they really mean when they say false start. A real start at the wrong time. And at the first meet of the season, nobody knew this more than Ghost.

Before the race, me and everybody else stood on the sidelines, clapping and hyping Ghost and Lu up as they took their marks. This was of course after they had already gassed each other up, talking to each other like there was no one else on the track but them. Funny how they went from mean-muggin'' each other when they first met, to becoming all buddy-buddy like they their own two-man gang or something. Lu and Ghost--sticking together like glue. Ha! Glue! Ghost and Lu, Glue. Get it? That could be their corny crew name. Lost would also work. Matter fact, there was a moment where I thought that name might even be more fitting. Especially after what Ghost did.

See, at first, I thought he''d timed it perfectly. I thought Ghost pushed off from the line at the exact moment the gun went off, as if he just knew when it was coming. Like he could feel it on the inside of him or something. But he didn''t hear the second shot. Well, I take that back. Of course he heard it. It was a loud boom. It was impossible not to hear it. But he didn''t know it meant that he''d jumped too early, that he''d false started. I mean, this was his first race, so he had no clue that that second shot meant to stop running, and start over. So . . . he didn''t.

He ran the entire hundred meters. Didn''t know that people weren''t cheering him on, but were yelling for him to pull up, to go back to the starting line. So when he got to the finish line, he threw his hands up in victory and turned around with one of them million-toothed smiles until he noticed all the other runners--his competition--were still up at the top of the track. He looked out into the crowd. Everybody, laughing. Pointing. Shaking their heads, while Ghost dropped his. Stared at the black tar, his chest like someone blowing up a balloon inside him, then letting the air out, then blowing it back up, then letting the air out. I was afraid that balloon was gonna bust. That Ghost would burst open like he used to do when he first joined the team. And I could tell by the way he was chewing on the side of his jaw that he wanted to, or maybe just keep running, off the track, out of the park, all the way home.

Coach walked over to him, whispered something in his ear. I don''t know what it was. But it was probably something like, "It''s okay, it''s okay, settle down, you''re still in it. But if you do it again, you''re disqualified." Nah, knowing Coach, it was probably something a little more deep, like . . . I don''t know. I can''t even think of nothing right now, but Coach was full of deep. Whatever it was, Ghost lifted his head and trotted back to the line, where Lu was waiting with his hand out for a five. Ghost was still out of breath, but there was no time for him to catch it. He had to get back down on his mark. Get ready to run it all over.

The starter held the gun in the air again. My stomach flipped over again. The man pulled the trigger again. Boom! again. And Ghost took off. Again. It was almost like his legs were sticks of dynamite, and the first run was just the fuse being lit, and now, the tiny fire had gotten to the blowup part. And let me tell you, Ghost . . . blew up. Busted wide open in the best way. I mean, the dude exploded down the line in a blur, even faster this time, his silver shoes like sparks flicking up off the track.

First race. First place.

Even after a false start.

And if a false start means a real start at the wrong time--the wrong time being too early--then I must''ve had a false finish, which also ain''t a fake finish, but a real finish, just . . . too late. Make sense?

Just in case it don''t, let me explain.

My race was up next. And here''s the thing, I''ve been running the eight hundred for three years straight. It''s my race. I have a system, a way of running it. I come off the block strong and low and by the time I''m straight up, my stride is steady, but I always allow myself to drop back a little. You know, keeping it cool for the first lap. Pace. That''s where eight-hundred runners blow it. They start out too fast and be rigged by the second lap. I seen a lot of girls get roasted out there, showboatin'' on that first four hundred. But I knew better. I knew the second four hundred was the kicker. What I didn''t know, though, was just how fast the girls in this new league were. What kinda shape they were in. So when the gun blew, and we took off, I realized that the pace I had to keep just to stay with the pack was faster than I was used to. But, of course, I''m thinking, these girls are stupid and are gonna be tired in twenty seconds.

In thirty seconds.

In forty seconds.

Never happened, and instead it ended up being me saying to myself, Oh God, I''m tired. How am I tired? And as we rounded into the final two hundred meters, I had to dig deep and step it up. So I turned on the jets.

Here''s how it went.

Cornrows, Low-Cut, Ponytail, and Puny-Tail in front of me. Chop ''em down, Patty. Push, push, push, breathe. Cornrows is on my side now. The crowd is screaming the traditional chant when someone is getting passed--Woooop! Woooop! Woooop! Push. Push. Cornrows is toast. One hundred meters to go. Mouth wide open. Eyes wide open. Stride wide open. Chop ''em down, Patty. Arms pumping, whipping the air out of my way like water. Low-Cut is slowing up. Her little pea-head''s bobbling like it could snap right off. She''s tired. Finally. Woooop! Woooop! Got her. Two more to go. Ponytail can feel me coming. She can probably hear my footsteps over the screaming crowd. She knows I''m close, and then she makes the biggest mistake ever--the one thing every coach tells you to never do--she looked back. See, when you look back, it automatically knocks your stride off and it gets you messed up mentally. And once Ponytail looked over her shoulder, the woooops started back up like a siren. Woooop! Woooop! Woooop! Fifty meters. That''s right, I''m coming. Chop ''em down, Patty. I''m coming. I could see Puny-Tail just ahead of her, that little twist of hair in the back of her head like a snake tongue. She was running out of breath. I could see that by the way her form had broken down. Ponytail was too. We all were. And even worse for me, we were also running out of track.

I got Ponytail by a nose--second place--then collapsed, people cheering all around me, jumping up and down in the stands quickly becoming a wavy blur of color as the tears rose. Second? Stupid second place? Ugh. No way was I going to cry. Trust me, I wanted to, water pricking at my eyelids, but no way. I wanted to kick something, I was so mad! Coach Whit came over and helped me up, and once I was standing, I yanked away from her and limped over to the bench. My legs were burning and cramping, but I wanted to kick something anyway. Maybe kick the bench over. Kick those stupid orange slices Lu''s mother brought. Anything. But instead I just sat down and didn''t say a word for the rest of the meet. Yes, I''m a sore loser, if that''s what you wanna call it. To me, I just like to win. I only wanna win. Anything else is . . . false. Fake.

But real.

So real, I didn''t even want to talk about it on the way to church the next day. Not with no one. Not even with God. I''d spent all morning braiding Maddy''s hair the same way Ma used to braid mine when I was little. Only difference is Ma got fat fingers, and used to be braiding like she was trying to strip my edges or make me bald. Talkin'' ''bout, "Gotta make it tight so it don''t come loose." Right. But I don''t even do Maddy''s that tight, and I can knock out a whole head full of hair in half an hour if she sits still. Which she never does.

"How many more?" Maddy whined, squirming on the floor in front of me.

"I''m almost done. Just chill out, so I can . . ." I picked up the can of beads and shook them in her ear like one of them Spanish shaker things. And just like that, she calmed down and let me tilt her head forward so I could braid the last section, the bit of curls tightly wound at the base of her neck. I dipped my finger in the gunk on the back of my hand, then massaged it into Maddy''s scalp. Then I stroked grease into the leftover bush-ball, tugging it straight, then letting it go, watching it shrink back into dark brown cotton candy.

"What colors you want?" I asked, separating the hair into the three parts.

"Ummmm . . ." Maddy put a finger to her chin, acting like she thinking. I say acting, because she knew what color she wanted. She picked the same one every week. Matter fact, there was only one color in the can.