cover image I Am Not Alone

I Am Not Alone

Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-33873-626-7

Stork (On the Hook) interweaves issues of racism, mental health, and classism with a budding romance in this moving read. Teenage Alberto lives with his beloved nephew, his drug-dependent older sister, and her married, physically abusive boyfriend. On top of dealing with his tumultuous homelife and working as a housepainter to help financially support the rest of his family back in Mexico, he must also navigate concerns about his own undocumented status, his undiagnosed learning disability, and a mysterious voice in his head that pressures him to commit violent acts. On a job, he meets Grace, a Princeton hopeful from an affluent Jewish family, who’s drawn to Alberto’s kindness. When Alberto goes on the run after being accused of murdering an elderly client, Grace resolves to help him. But with all the evidence seemingly pointing to Alberto, and Alberto himself experiencing frequent blackouts and doubting his own mind, Grace must enlist the teens’ N.Y.C. community to ensure justice. Straightforward prose and the pair’s alternating perspectives paint an accessible picture of Alberto’s auditory hallucinations (informed by Stork’s own experience, according to an author’s note) and suspected schizophrenia, and Grace’s own doubts regarding her future. While the narrative’s high-stakes conflicts are front and center, it’s the sheer sweetness of Alberto and Grace’s love story that sets the tone of this hopeful read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Faye Bender, Book Group. (July)