When Nic Stone asked little ol’ me to read her book before it came out, I was elated — to say the least. DEAR MARTIN, titled after the main character sending letters to Martin Luther King Jr, chronicles the life of Justyce McAllister, an african American student at a majority white school.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class at Braselton Prep, captain of the debate team, and set for an Ivy League school next year—but, none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He’s eventually released without charges (or an apology) but the incident rattles him. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his new classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.
Justyce has long studied the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But do they hold up in 21st century America? He starts a journal “to” Dr. King to sort things out.
When I had read the goodreads blurb I just knew I had to read this book, and honestly I wasn’t expecting to much, but let me tell you something: This book took my edges (That means it is really good) I don’t think I’ve ever related to a character more than I do with Justyce, and I say that because often times being a person of color – Black in particular means that when we are forced to live in these white spaces where whiteness is prevalent we often feel the need to be silent. To not be “that one black person” and so, just being a black male who attended a PWI for two years made me seeing Justyce as a character so relateable and a lot of the moments he had I sat in my bed saying “Me too fam, me too.”
I’m not gonna lie, this book will toss a lot of peoples morals in the arena and slapbox with them. Which is to say it’s gonna put things into a perspective that you as a reader may not be comfortable accepting or understanding — If anything this Young Adult novel acts a mirror that accurately reflects the times in which we live. There are so many characters with such vast opinions and ideologies, and what Nic has done so well is that she takes the nuances of police brutality arguments and really expounds on them — so she explores the minute things. She doesn’t stop at police brutality though, she also expounds on classism, privilege, race-relations, making it out, and so many topics. Now I know what you’re thinking this sounds like some sjw book masquerading as Young Adult, but lemme stop you there. It’s not. Yes Nic Stone covers these topics but it is not with a heavy hand, more like a feathers touch.
If Audra Lorde were to write a Young Adult novel that presented tough conversations that have to happen in a way for all readers (regardless of race) to grasp on to, Nic Stone’s book would be that. My full review of the book will be coming out closer to the publishing date which on goodreads says October 17th 2017.