Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Publishing Date: October 17th 2017
Number of Pages: 210
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, ContemporaryRaw, 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.
“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to ‘fit’? People who make history rarely do.”
Reading this book, I couldn’t help but remember The Hate U give because of the issue it tackles and the people its representing. Just like The Hate U Give, Dear Martin dives deep into racism but while The Hate U Give is about a Black teen who saw her best friend got shot by a cop and speak up for him, Dear Martin, on the other hand, is about a Black teen who experienced being arrested himself and then eventually be the victim of a cop for a different and much heavier case.
There are deep and thoughtful discussions and debates about inequality and racism in America. Thoughts about inequality was also shown from the point of views of both the privileged and the marginalized and I think that’s a great way of making people realize things. Some people think that things are equal but that’s only because they’re on the side of the majority. But what if they’ll see things from the side of the minority? This book tries to answer this and the opposite question. And that’s what made me fall in love with this book hard. It doesn’t speak. It yells for the privileged people at the back to open their eyes to reality.
The characters give perfect portrayal of people in real life. There are these privileged teenagers who see things as equal because they are seeing things through their rose-tainted lenses, a Black man who’s guiding a Black teen deal with all his frustrations because he’d been there once, a white teen who is aware of the reality and stands as an ally for the minority, a Black teen whose friends with white people and is not comfortable being with other Black people, and then there is this Black teenager, our main character, who doesn’t know how to deal and live in this world where people are being valued and being judged by the color of their skin while he feels that people around him doesn’t care about the same thing the way he does. These are characters you’ll not only see in this book but also encounter in real life.
No matter how serious the topic this book is tackling, it still managed to be so entertaining. I love the humor, the wit, and the lightness in this book. Despite that this is a story of a Black teen dealing with the heavy issue of racism, Nic Stone balanced it with lightness by still focusing on the main character’s life as a teenager. It shows high school life, how teens deal with peer pressure, studies, friendship and love.
I really really loved Justyce and SJ’s relationship, as well as Justyce and Manny’s friendship, and Doc and Jus’ teacher-student relationship. SJ and Jus’ relationship made me remember how good it feels to fall in love – especially in high school where things are awkward and strange and beautiful at the same time – while Jus’ and Manny’s friendship made me think of how good it is to have real friends in life and just how thankful I am to have them. And doc and Jus’ relationship reminds me of how good it is to have a teacher who you treat as a second parent and treats you like their child.
Doc: Morning, peeps.
Class: [Multiple grunts, waves, and nodes.]
Doc: Let’s get started, shall we? Discussion prompt of the day…
Jared: United States Declaration of Independence, ratified July Fourth, 1776. [Smiles smugly and crosses his arms]
How this type of dialogue was suddenly used for the first time was the only thing I didn’t liked at first. The author used this while narrating a scene and it just reminded me of some stories on Wattpad where the whole book was written in that format which infuriate me. However, it helped me picture the exchange of arguments better in my head and made it easier for me to feel how heated their argument was becoming. So, I eventually learned to like and understood the usage of this format.
Nic Stone is such a brilliant author. One with a voice that we need in this time. I will definitely read more of her works in the future.
Overall, I really love this book. DEAR MARTIN IS SO IMPORTANT. It tells a story everyone must hear. I highly recommend.
I don’t really have an alternative but to keep going, do I?
It’s like I’m trying to climb a mountain, but I’ve got one fool trying to shove me down so I won’t be on his level, and another fool tugging at my leg, trying to pull me to the ground he refuses to leave.
Knowing there are people who don’t want me to succeed is depressing. Especially coming from two directions.
Every time I turn on the news and see another black person gunned down, I’m reminded that people look at me and see a threat instead of a human being.
“People are gonna disrespect you, but so what?”
“It’s frustrating, man! When you work hard and earn your way, and people suggest you haven’t and you’re not worthy, that shit hurts, Doc.”
“People often learn more from getting an undeserved pass than they would from being punished.”
“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?”
Have you read this? Did you love it as well? Do you have any recommendation of a book that talks about the same issues? What are your thoughts about the characters? Share your thoughts below!