Release Date: October 17, 2017
Published by Crown Books
Synopsis: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
First of all, this book was in all ways incredible. I had the honor of meeting the ever beautiful Nic Stone at the ALA convention this summer, and she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. This book has been on my radar for quite some time now, especially with everything going on in the world. With the hype for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin also hits the same serious and controversial note about police brutality and racism in America. I am by no means comparing the two books other than the facts that they’re both insightful, relevant, and highly important. But they are also both independent of each other and unique in their own ways.
When I first picked up this book to read, the plot is what interested me the most. I loved the concept of a conflicted teenager writing to a prominent idol, the influential activist Martin Luther King Jr. Another aspect I loved about this book was the simplicity of it. It was short and to the point, going through all the major events and actions never spending time on dry details. It’s a small book with a big message. Everything in this book was intriguing and fast-paced. I flew through this book in a day, which isn’t common unless I’m fully invested (and I was).
I cannot even begin to convey my appreciation and love for this book. Nic Stone has a real way of writing, she writes as if it’s really happening and what would happen in reality. It’s simple and sweet, easy to understand and empathize with. Being in a predominantly white school, I felt myself relating to what Justyce experienced. Not to say that I’ve ever faced discrimination to the same lengths as Justyce in this book, but I’ve known people to ask the same questions about race and sparking the same ignorant conversations. Every time Nic wrote about political conversations they had in class, I found myself angry at her characters and the topics mainly because I know what it’s like to be in a losing argument because the other side will never hear your side of a story.
Justyce is faced with many decisions and questions in his life. He doesn’t know if he should go after the white girl he really likes or if that betrays what he stands for. He doesn’t understand how Manny can be friends with racists or why he always listens to what they say. No one understands what he’s going through, so his only way to cope is to write to MLK as an outlet. Justyce feels like he’s growing up in a world that wants him to fail no matter how hard he tries, and he faces the question of who is he and who does he want to be.
This story is a thoughtful coming of age novel many people can relate to even if they’re not specifically black Americans, though this book tailors to them. For anyone who loved The Hate U Give, this book is a must read because it shows the side of the conversation no one wants to listen to. It tells people from the perspective of a black character written by a black woman on how she perceives the world and all its injustices. It’s sad to realize a tragedy is what took Justyce to come to his own conclusions about the world and to open a door in those refusing to listen, but it’s how the real world actually works.
Nic Stone writes Dear Martin to bring light to the topics and questions dominating our media and society. In order for the problems to be solved, people must listen to each other to better understand, which is not what many are doing. It addresses the issues and points out the flaws, yet nothing has been done to fix America’s racist customs.