Ghost Boys begins with the death of twelve-year-old Jerome Rogers and slowly unfolds through a series of flashbacks. Jerome lives in an improvised neighborhood in Chicago. His walk to school is dangerous including going past drug dealers. Jerome is bullied for being a good student.
One day a new kid comes to school, Carlos Rodríguez. Jerome knows right away that he is going to be a target for bullies. Jerome decides to help Carlos by showing him how to grab his lunch then eat it in the upstairs restroom. Unfortunately, the bullies find the two and begin beating on Carlos. Jerome draws the attention of the bullies away from Carlos. When he does, Carlos pulls out a gun. The bullies back down and leave. Carlos tells Jerome the gun is just a toy made from plastic. He carried it to school because he was afraid.