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 (I and I Bob Marley) takes on a host of difficult questions. A hip-hop Hamlet created in Alfonso’s English class frames his experience as ghostly murder victim. Alfonso’s father, incarcerated for years, has just been exonerated; his triumphant return was the occasion for the suit purchase. At the story’s heart is Alfonso’s mother’s plea: if the officer’s school had taught him more about the world, she mourns, he might have seen Alfonso “as a teenager... as an American, as a human.” Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2017 Release date: 10/01/2017 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.