Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Review: Dear Martin

Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Source: Gifted
Format: ARC

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 (goodreads).

That was a whirlwind of emotions!
Plot: Nic Stone can write her ass off, that's for sure. When I first received this book I was worried, how can a book that was barely 200 pages address such a serious topic? Not only was Stone's execution perfect, she managed to write beautifully complex characters and leave just enough to allow for conversations. 

This book needs to be on the shelves of every school library and I can't wait to see what critical conversations this book sparks. What I loved the most about Dear Martin was that Nic Stone addressed various perspectives of police brutality and the many different reactions to it; I could not put this book down! I laughed, I cried (hard), and I thought, I thought a lot. The only reason why I couldn't give this book the full five stars because I was expecting more conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Even though the novel is called Dear Martin and is based on Justyce's social experiment, I found that aspect was quickly forgotten about. I wanted to read more letters between Jusytce and MLK and his thoughts during this social experiment. 

Characters: Justyce was an outstanding young man whose mother only wanted the best for him. He reminded me a bit of Starr Carter solely because he was born and raised in the 'hood but went to school and socialized with a group that was made up of upper-class white people. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Justyce navigate through some situations and even figure out his own love life. Everyone in this novel and I mean everyone, felt fully realized and no one was written as the "hero" or "villain", instead, it was a conversation on the result of years and years of systemic racism. I was very intrigued by Justyce's best friend, Manny, who tried desperately to fit in with his group of white friends but unwittingly became the butt of many jokes. 

Worldbuilding: Much like The Hate U Give, I loved the contrast between the two neighborhoods in Atlanta, Georgia. Through simple conversations, it was easy to see how priorities in each neighborhood changed and how so many young black men could turn to gangs for answers. 

Short N Sweet: Read this book and talk to someone about it; Dear Martin is going to get a lot of people talking and I can't wait for these conversations!


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