Review of I Am Not Alone

I Am Not Alone I Am Not Alone
by Francisco X. Stork
High School    Scholastic    320 pp.
7/23    9781338736267    $19.99

Eighteen-year-old Alberto lives with his sister, Lupe, and her baby, Chato, in Brooklyn. While studying for his high-school equivalency, he’s working painting houses for Lupe’s sketchy boyfriend and expressing himself creatively at the neighborhood ceramics studio. On a job, he meets Grace, whose parents are going through a messy divorce. The two quickly bond and form a friendship, maybe more; but Alberto is troubled by a voice in his head (which he calls “Captain America”) that espouses violence. Then a wealthy woman is murdered while Alberto is painting her apartment, and he becomes the only suspect. Grace harbors him, believes in him, and wants to clear his name—but he’s not so sure he’s innocent. Stork’s (Illegal, rev. 7/20) latest propulsive psychological thriller again features a multidimensional cast of primary and secondary characters facing heightened situations (suspension of disbelief recommended). Issues of socioeconomic inequities, immigration, domestic violence, addiction, and antisemitism are well-threaded throughout the narrative; but most memorable and indelible is Alberto’s struggle with mental illness: his efforts to stand up to Captain America, his uncertainty, and, by the end, comfort in being “not alone.” A closing note describes Stork’s own experiences with auditory hallucinations, and Mental Health and Crisis Resources are appended.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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