“How do I work against this, Martin? Getting real with you, I feel a little defeated. Knowing there are people who don’t want me to succeed is depressing. Especially coming from two directions.”
-Nic Stone, Dear Martin
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.
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.
This book is a book that needed to be written and is a book that needs to be read. Dear Martin was a book that I picked up because of the hype surrounding it. I had heard praise in passing and on bookstagram and twitter. Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, was one of the books biggest proponents. So, I eagerly anticipated reading this book. When I saw the opportunity to pick up a signed copy at YALLFest I knew I had to grab it.
First of all, the perspective of this book is contemporary in a way that makes the story more raw. These kids, Justyce and Manny, exist in our modern times. It is not a book set during Jim Crow or during the civil rights movement. No, these are issues that are occurring today without being acknowledged. Many of today’s youth are not given the chance to voice their perspectives or tell their stories.
Justyce’s story is heartbreaking. He is a kid that has done everything he’s been told is right. He has followed all of the expectations set for him and excelled. Yet, no matter how great of a student, citizen, and kid Justyce is that doesn’t protect him from racism or discrimination.
Throughout the book we are met with a cast of characters that are diverse. Each of them are trying to find their place in the world. All of them are unique and distinct. Their backgrounds and stories differ. Yet, none of them are untouched by the effects of racism in our society. Nic Stone offers insight into our society and the discrimination rampant in it. The characters don’t truly find a solution to the problem, because we haven’t found a solution as a society.
Dear Martin does not only talk about interratial relations, or discrimination. It also touches upon the systematic racism prevalent in our country. This is the kind of engrained ideas that leads many people of color to be completely discouraged. With a lack of opportunity, educational disparity, and lack of representation people of color have enormous disadvantages. Stone shows characters characters who react differently to these disadvantages, and gives them all representation in her novel.
The truth in the stories of these characters is raw. The events in the book directly correlate with tragedies from real life. The murders and criminalization of people of color in our country is devastating. Nic Stone’s novel exposes these tragedies.
Dear Martin completely moved me. I’ve never had quite as visceral reaction to a novel as I did with this book. I found myself sobbing through the book. It was upsetting not because of the fictional events but because of the real events they were inspired by.
I am especially happy I picked up this book, because I am a teacher at a school with a predominately African American and Hispanic population. This is a book that I know my kids can relate to, which is heartbreaking in and of itself. I have begun recommending this book to anyone that will listen. It will definitely become a top recommendation for me.