I Am Alfonso Jones
Booklist Reviews 2017 September #2
Alfonso—black teenager, gifted student, the son of a wrongfully imprisoned father—is shot dead by a police officer. His crime? Shopping for his first suit to celebrate his father's release. Alfonso awakens on a purgatorial ghost subway. There "ancestors"—spirits of past victims of racial violence—guide him through his life, his parents' lives, even the life of the officer who shot him, as well as showing him the consequences (and lack of consequences) that follow his death. Medina, likewise, guides readers through the world that contemporary African Americans live in, a world where justice does not seem to exist. Yet, he preserves a thoughtful perspective and a sense of balanced humanity through Alfonso's loving family and his school cohort, and he staves off suffocating solemnity with a lyrical turn of phrase and insightful allusions to literary ghosts. The illustrators evoke honest emotion but allow figures to burst with an animated energy that offsets the high verbosity. Warning: there are no happy endings here. The book ends, but Alfonso's purgatorial quest for justice does not. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2018 Fall
In the afterlife, African American fifteen-year-old Alfonso meets "Ancestors" who, like him, were killed by white police officers. Medina's emotional narrative starts tightly, with the illustrators' black-and-white visuals zoomed in closely on a single spiraling bullet; the story expands, exploring Alfonso's life and bringing his death and those that survive him steadily into view. This emotional graphic novel avoids contrived solutions and false senses of closure. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #2
Early in this emotional graphic novel, fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones (who is black) is shot and killed by a white off-duty police officer while shopping for a suit to wear to his exonerated father's release from prison. The community and national outcries are tumultuous and devastatingly familiar as Alfonso's family and friends demand justice: "No justice…no peace!" Protesters chant those words; communities eviscerated by police violence and enraged anew by Alfonso's murder chant them. But alongside them, tucked into a subway train in the afterlife, Alfonso hears the same words said by his fellow passengers—"Ancestors" whose lives were also taken by police officers and who cannot now find rest. Medina's textual narrative starts tightly with black-and-white visuals that follow suit, zoomed in closely on a single spiraling bullet. And from there it expands, exploring Alfonso's bright, short life and bringing his death and those that survive him steadily into view to confront the repercussions of white supremacy. No contrived solutions or false sense of closure disrupt the narrative's expanding path as it touches on related issues of poverty and mass incarceration. An appended author's note, information about "The Real-Life Ancestors of This Book" (e.g., Eleanor Bumpurs, Amadou Diallo), and an "Ancestors Wall" listing the names, ages, and dates and places of death bring readers back to the real-life victims of police violence and leave them with a concluding call to action. anastasia m. collins Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 January #1
Alfonso's playing Hamlet's ghost-father in his school's hip-hop version of the play while hoping for a second role as Danetta's boyfriend. But buying his first suit, he becomes a real ghost when a police officer mistakes a coat hanger for a weapon and shoots him. In the afterlife, he awakens in a subway train among other ghosts, who share their own experiences with police brutality. A gut-punching trip into a Black Lives Matter story, with black-and-white art. Teacher's guide available. (Xpress Reviews 11/3/17)Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2017 October #1
Readers might feel that Harlem high school student Alfonso Jones is almost too good: he studies hard and always returns from his bike messenger rounds promptly so his mother doesn't worry. But when he goes downtown with his crush to buy a new suit, a cop mistakes the clothes hanger he's holding for a gun and kills him. Readers who wondered at Alfonso's saintliness now watch as the media and justice system rush to vilify him. Alfonso, meanwhile, finds himself on a ghost train with his ancestors, other victims of police killings who share his agony and offer comfort. Enlivened by high-voltage sequential artwork from Robinson and Jennings, Medina (