I Am Alfonso Jones

By Library Journal

The creative team of Medina (Love to Langston), Jennings (The Blacker the InkKindred), and Robinson (graphic design, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Black Kirby) tell the story of Alfonso Jones, a bright, energetic teen excitedly anticipating a starring role in his school’s performance of Hamlet and the homecoming of his wrongfully imprisoned, recently exonerated father. When Alfonso crosses paths with an off-duty police officer who mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, the officer opens fire, taking Alfonso’s life. What follows is a powerful examination of grief, rage, and the responsibility that the living owe the dead, as Alfonso finds himself ferried through the afterlife on a ghostly train peopled with past victims of wrongful shooting deaths, and his friends, family, and community attempt to make sense of his tragic demise. A proclivity for crowding scenes with an overwhelming amount of dialog and narration that occasionally read as slightly more essayistic than as natural reactions to these terrible events robs some scenes of their power. But, overall, this groundbreaking and timely story should be read by all, especially those interested in the Black Lives Matter movement and the complicated relationship between the police and those they serve. Verdict A deeply felt and absolutely necessary story that humanizes characters too often relegated to statistics and headlines; sure to spark strong responses and debate among readers.