I Am Alfonso Jones
By Teen Librarian Toolbox, School Library Journal
What a phenomenal graphic novel. I was completely wrapped up in the world of Alfonso and the ancestors for this story, alternately cheering for activism and hope and crying for injustice and discouragement.
Alfonso is feeling pretty good about life. He loves playing his trumpet, acting, attending his arts high school, being a bike messenger, and flirting with Danetta. The best thing in his life, though, is that his father, who has been incarcerated Alfonso’s entire life, is being released, finally exonerated of a crime he did not commit. But while out shopping for a suit to wear to meet his father, Alfonso is shot and killed by a white off-duty cop. Once dead, Alfonso joins a group of ghosts on a train. These ghosts are the ancestors who are seeking justice and rest. Alfonso learns about their lives and the ways they were killed by police while also going to see scenes from his past as well as what he’s missing in the present. Alfonso is able to see how his parents are coping, to follow the white police officer who killed him, and to see how his name lives on in the media, the justice system, and the many large protests that spring up after his death. An Ancestors Wall at the end lists the names of victims of police violence. This look at the prison industrial complex, the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and the various systems of violence and oppression that have always existed in this country is devastating and important.
Reviews & CommentsSchool Library Journal
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gene Luen Yang, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of AMERICAN BORN CHINESE and BOXERS AND SAINTS
LeVar Burton, Actor, Director, Author, and Reading Activist
Daniel José Older, author of SHADOWSHAPER and SHADOWHOUSE FALL
Randy DuBurke, illustrator of YUMMY: THE LAST DAYS OF A SOUTHSIDE SHORTY
Ibi Zoboi, author of AMERICAN STREET
Katheryn Russell-Brown, University of Florida Law professor, Director, UF Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, and author of LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE
Frederick Luis Aldama, author of LONG STORIES CUT SHORT: FICTIONS FROM THE BORDERLANDS and LATINX SUPERHEROES IN MAINSTREAM COMICS
Tanita Davis, author of PEAS AND CARROTS and MARE'S WAR
Allie Jane Bruce, Children's Librarian, Bank Street College and co-founder of Reading While White