Dear MartinBy: Nic StoneGenre: YA Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Social IssuesRating: 5 starsRelease Date: October 17th 2017Publisher: Crown Books for Young ReadersI received this ARC in a giveaway &it in no way affects my review or unbiased opinion of this book.
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, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.
Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In that media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.
I call this “my reaction” because it not only took me a bit to type up my review for the book itself, but also all of the thoughts, feelings and memories this book made me think of. Although this book left my mind and heart just all over the place, I truly loved it and I am grateful I was given the opportunity to read this ARC because it had such a huge affect on me and it is something that I look forward to sharing with my family and friends.
From the moment I started reading, I was able to connect with Justyce’s character—from his thoughts, concerns, fear and anxiousness. And his attempt at trying to make sense of himself and the rest of the world through a method inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. teachings following the fall out of his wrongful arrest. It was just all so real, raw, insightful and moving.
One of the many things I loved and appreciated about this book was the way Nic Stone keeps the narrative objective because it makes it so connectable to other readers, whether they are allies, individuals who have experienced some of the same situations Justyce has faced or others ignorant of the seriousness and dangers African Americans and other POC face every day when it comes to racism.
I pondered if I wanted to focus on the situation regarding Justyce and his arrest as being the main focal points I discussed for this book, but in all honesty, it is so much more than racial profiling from authorities. The political, inaccurate and discriminatory stories spun by a lot of the media outlets and the prejudices of people—it all just hits home.
There wasn’t an instance when I did not imagine my brothers or my uncles in situations close to Justyce’s and it shook me. However, choosing LOVE over HATE. Recognizing that we still have such a far way to go. Accepting that we can’t do it on our own. Knowing that importance of sticking together, speaking together and moving together is the only way forward. And being strong enough to face it all head on.
Even before last week’s protest in Charlottesville, VA, I was struggling to come up with the right words for how moving and important this book is to all readers, young or old, because I was hung up on how real and close to our reality it was. Of course, as an African-American woman, it was impossible not to see my brothers or my uncles and even myself in the situations that Justyce was dealing with in this book and that become such a jarring feeling.
Aside from being raised by a single parent, Justyce and I represent two completely different worlds, but regardless, I know that a POC’s story and life is hardly ever taken into account when they are profiled, victimized or harmed. With this, I am trying to choose my words so carefully here because with the weight and present state of our world weighing down on my heart and everything just feeling so wrong and backwards these days.
Which is why I really appreciate the way in which Nic Stone not only addresses the social issue and unjustly stereotype aspects of race in our society and the manner of objectivity that she keeps consistent throughout the narrative. It speaks to both POC readers and ally’s on the subject. Moreover, this book offers readers, particularly young adult readers, a clear and open perspective from multiple sides.
Whats more, it opens up a discussion for those who are ignorant or actively try to ignore the fact that the issues regarding race and profiling are still a major problem in our world. Even on those who fit into the category of Justyce’s best friend Manny who hung out with and was close to rich white boys that refused to take racism seriously. It made me think about a guy I knew who was “friends” with an old roommate of mine. He was African-American and my roommate was white and assumed that since he was the only other African-American guy in his circle of friends that we’d automatically get along when they were over to hang out.
I didn’t, however, because I didn’t know him, he creeped me out and like Manny seemed to welcome the racial and derogatory jokes and comments they made all the time. I know that since I kept to myself and was friends with his girlfriend (who was nice and actively checking him on his, you know what) that I was either cool with it or was obvious to it all together. However, I was too caught in school to pay him much, if any attention, went on about my days.
I do remember that at least two of the house parties I was involved in before then of the school term I did address him and the African-American guy about their jokes and was met with awkward silences which I know caught them off guard. Reading this book made me think that that guy might have been like Manny, just trying to fit in and not let it get to him or maybe it made him different (being a part of the group instead of the one being laughed about).
Regardless, never speaking up about it keeps the cycle going and it is part of what has kept racism so systematically and socially embedded within our world. I don’t want to be on the side of that kind of normalization and I hope that if you took the time to look at this post and go pick up Dear Martin in October that you don’t either. Even if you weren’t able to connect to what I had to say, I encourage you to go pick up the book anyway. It is an incredible read and you won’t be able to put it down.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Until the next post,