Book Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone


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Book Review: Dear Martin by Nic StoneDear Martin by Nic Stone
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on October 17, 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 210
Format: ebook
Buy on Amazon

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.

I finished reading Dear Martin by Nic Stone nearly a week ago but I’ve felt unmotivated to write a review. Dear Martin is worthy of the praise, but I just didn’t feel like shouting from the rooftops. This morning I realized why and why my reaction is bad.

To get to this part of the review, you’ve probably read the synopsis above. Justyce is a normal kid about to finish high school. He’s a scholarship kid, with an offer from Yale. There’s a girlfriend or two, a supporting mom, and all the other things typical of an American teen. Justyce’s only problem is growing up black. Nic has written a believable story of a boy struggling with where he fits in life, blending and sometimes juggling two cultural and socio-economic lives. I had an emotional attachment for the characters I was meant to: I worried for Justyce when he was about to make a poor decision and sympathized when his mom rejected his white girlfriend. So why was I unenthused about writing the review?

This morning I realized it was because I’ve read too many books recently about living while black. There is The Hate U Give, After the Shot Drops, and On the Come Up. Then Dread Nation and a plethora of Amazon shorts on African-American crime. While all excellent stories they have a sameness. Except they are a sameness that only shows my privilege of being Caucasian. While these stories lost their edge and became repetitious, to African-Americans, it is their every day. So please read Dear Martin, and The Hate U Give, and After the Shot Drops, and On the Come Up, and Dread Nation and all the other books showing the lives of people of color and written by people of color. You’ll discover there are issues you have in common, but also (if you’re Caucasian) discover another life and become more understanding.


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Justyce is heading to Yale and has a promising future, once he navigates growing up black in Dear Martin by Nic Stone.

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More about Bianca

Bianca Smith is currently melting her way through her first Australian summer in a rather long time. She hides out in air conditioned libraries reading the novels she stalled on while studying an Executive MBA during the year. When she's not reading (or making websites), she's seeing how far she can run and catching up with her friends in her adopted Seattle.

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