Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on October 17th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Source: a Blog Giveaway
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from a Blog Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Today is my stop on the RockStar Blog Tour for Nic Stone’s powerful new novel, Dear Martin. Please check out my review and then be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for your chance to win a finished copy of DEAR MARTIN. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the other stops on the Dear Martin Blog Tour!
Dear Martin is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful and most important books I’ve read this year. It follows the story of high school student Justyce Mcallister. Through Justyce’s eyes, readers see firsthand what it’s like to be a young black man in America. We experience the fear and the frustration of constantly having to worry about being singled out by police, or even shot and killed, because of the color of your skin, the clothes that you’re wearing, or perhaps even the type of music that you’re listening to and how loud you have that music turned up.
Justyce has worked hard all his life in order to secure the best future possible for himself. He thinks everything is going his way too until one fateful night when he is stopped by a police officer and immediately placed in handcuffs. It doesn’t matter that Justyce is an “A” student and that he has been accepted to an Ivy League university; the police officer just automatically assumes that Justyce is up to no good.
The racial profiling is blatant and it makes Justyce all the more sensitive to the racism that goes on around him every day. When he returns to school, for example, one of his white classmates (and someone he thought was a friend) implies that the only reason Justyce got into an Ivy League school was because of his race and Affirmative Action. Not only does the student accuse Justyce of not having truly earned his spot at the university, but the implication is that Justyce stole the white student’s spot as well.
Justyce is not only frustrated by these comments but also by comments from those he grew up with who accuse of him forgetting his roots and selling out because he moved out of their rough and poor neighborhood to go to a better school.
When the unthinkable happens and someone near to him is killed in an incident involving a white off-duty police officer, Justyce is left feeling caught between two worlds and alone.
Armed with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, (the “Dear Martin” of the title), Justyce takes us on what is ultimately a journey of self-discovery. His story is raw, gritty, and poignant, but it is still ultimately a hopeful one.
Justyce of course was my favorite part of Dear Martin. He is not only an extremely likable character, but he is also a much needed voice in YA literature. There aren’t nearly enough books out there with young male protagonists, and especially persons of color. Nic Stone makes Justyce give a voice to every other young man who has experienced similar kinds of prejudice and/or who has been racially profiled..
Justyce is also a great character because he is so complex and well-developed. The journey that we go on with him is so poignant, especially experiencing the wide range of emotions he goes through – the initial almost disbelief that such blatant racism still exists, the mounting frustration as he realizes it’s all around him, and the questions that run through is mind about how to deal with it. Nic Stone does a beautiful job of fleshing out this character from every angle.
I also liked that Dear Martin packed such a huge punch with so few words. It’s only about 200 or so pages long, which would make it ideal for Required Reading at schools (hint, hint!), and it’s 200 of the most powerful and relevant pages I’ve read this year. It’s fast-paced and filled with plenty of action and riveting dialogue that I think would keep even the most reluctant reader engaged.
The Dear Martin letters that Justyce was writing throughout the story were another highlight for me. I loved the balance between those letters and the rest of the action of the story. The letters Justyce wrote were so reflective and conveyed every emotion he was feeling as he tried to process everything that was confronting him. They also powerfully illustrated how badly he wanted guidance to know how to survive in such a racist world “What Would Martin Do?”, along with his questions about whether or not the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were still relevant today.
I have to admit that at first I was a little down on the romantic relationship in Dear Martin. (Yes, my usual lament that not every YA contemporary needs to have romance.) In the case of Dear Martin, while I liked the relationship itself and thought the couple was a great match, I just felt like it was a little distracting from the main themes of the story. But then Nic Stone did something that changed my mind — she took what was seemingly a distraction and, through a conversation between Justyce and his mother, ended up tying it right back to one of her novel’s most important messages — that no one, white, black, or any other color, should be judged based on the color of their skin. Taking what could have been a potential distraction and linking to one of the central points of the story made the romance work much better for me than I thought it was going to.
Dear Martin is a book that everyone should read. I really wish this book had been around back when I was teaching high school because I just know Justyce’s story would have resonated with so many of my students. It not only powerfully tackles important social issues such as racism, racial profiling, and police brutality, but Nic Stone has also delivered a beautifully written story with a captivating and complex main character that you’ll fall in love with. I look forward to reading more from her and just can’t recommend Dear Martin highly enough.
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.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of DEAR MARTIN, US Only.
DEAR MARTIN TOUR SCHEDULE:
10/16/2017- LILbooKlovers– Interview
10/17/2017- YA Bibliophile– Review
10/18/2017- Mama Reads Blog– Guest Post
10/19/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
10/20/2017- Eli to the nth– Excerpt
10/23/2017- Chasing Faerytales– Review
10/24/2017- Omg Books and More Books– Interview
10/25/2017- BookHounds YA– Review
10/26/2017- Novel Novice– Guest Post
10/27/2017- The Bookish Libra– Review
10/30/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review
10/31/2017- Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook– Interview
11/1/2017- Reese’s Reviews– Excerpt
11/2/2017- Novel Ink– Review
11/3/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Guest Post
11/6/2017- Amanda Gernentz Hanson– Review
11/7/2017- Lisa Loves Literature– Excerpt
11/8/2017- Feed Your Fiction Addiction– Review
11/9/2017- Lost in Ever After– Interview
11/10/2017- A Backwards Story– Review