I Am Alfonso Jones


Medina combines Hamlet with the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement in a moving portrayal of a young man robbed of his future. This graphic novel tells the story of Alfonso Jones, an African American teenager gunned down one afternoon in a case of mistaken identity while shopping for a suit with his girlfriend. The reader gets to know Alfonso through stories he relates about his childhood, by hearing his thoughts in the afterlife, and by seeing how his death affects his loved ones. Sadly, Alfonso is misrepresented in the media coverage of the murder. Robinson and Jennings’s choice to use only black-and-white illustrations may turn off some readers, but this choice results in powerful illustrations. Young readers will see themselves in Alfonso—flirting with his would-be girlfriend; getting excited to meet his father who was unfairly imprisoned before Alfonso was born; and finally, dealing with the unwanted role of martyr. The book is accessible to young readers, but some parents and librarians may be concerned about the weighty subject matter, so the maturity of the reader is something to keep in mind. For the right readers, however, this is an important and timely book that should be included in school collections.