Review: Dear Martin
Review: Dear Martin
Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Published: 17 October 2017
Format: Paperback, Library Book
Memorable Quote: “You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. 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 should have read this book when it first came out, but I’m glad I read it. Dear Martin is a short book, but it is incredibly powerful and difficult to put down. I was captivated while reading, and whenever I did take breaks, I found myself reflecting on what I read and becoming more aware of my own privilege as a white woman.
Dear Martin dives into the topic of racism, but it also goes into detail about so much more: racial profiling, police brutality, toxic masculinity, grief, and interracial relationships…just to name a few. Nic Stone writes about all of these topics (and more) in a way that shines so much light and importance on them, and she writes them from the perspective of a teenage Black boy who writes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to better understand the world and what he is going through.
Stone also writes about gangs and what is appealing about them to young people. Her writing shows things are not as “black and white” as the news and other sources of information want them to be. I think this topic of the book really opened my eyes the most as someone who lives in a city that has quite a few issues with gangs. How quickly we dehumanize the people who are in these gangs. I know I had not thought much about why people joined gangs. I just knew they were present and possibly the source of several crimes in my city. However, these kids aren’t joining gangs because they love crime and want to be a criminal…there is so much more, and readers will see this through Justyce’s eyes, especially when he is at his breaking point emotionally.
Speaking of Justyce. His narration was great, and his character was incredibly well-written. The story feels like it’s being told by a teenage boy, not an author writing from the view point of one. Justyce is many things, and it is all shown in this book. While dealing with a court case and the media, Jus still has to navigate being a senior in high school and all the feelings and complexities that come with that. He is thoughtful and brilliant, but also is funny and very much a teenager.
I highly recommend Dear Martin to all readers. Reluctant readers will also enjoy this fast and powerful story. Nic Stone’s writing is fantastic, and I look forward to reading Dear Justyce next!