Dear Martin

Bibliography: Stone, Nic. Dear Martin. 2017. New York. Crown. ISBN-13: 9781101939499

Plot:41b0azUNK8L

Dear Martin is the debut novel by author Nic Stone. This novel follows senior Justyce McAllister as he navigates his place in his white-dominated world. Justyce is at the top of his class and on the track to attend an Ivy League school. However, his academic standing means nothing to the police officer that arrests him as he attempts to help a friend get into her car. This incident sets Justyce off on a path of self-discovery as he tries to decipher what it means to be black in such a white-dominated culture.

Justyce turns to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as his source of guidance and inspiration. He tries to live his life according to Dr. King’s teachings and writes to the deceased activist about his struggles and thoughts in a journal.

His plan to follow Dr. King is challenged one day while he and his friend Manny are driving down the road. Windows down and music blaring, Manny and Justyce get into a verbal altercation with an off-duty white policeman in another lane. Things escalate, shots are fired, and Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the aftermath of this incident, Justyce is forced to re-evaluate his own beliefs and relationships as he navigates through media scrutiny and self-doubt.

Critical Analysis:

Dear Martin makes a connection to America today amidst racial tensions and the Black Lives Matter movement.

To make these connections, Stone cites the prevalence of racist jokes and how lightly people often take them. Justyce is angered by how passive his best friend is about these jokes and doesn’t understand how his best friend, a person of color, can say racist jokes with his white friends.

Stone also highlights the media bias toward white individuals in altercations between white cops and people of color. For example, the media attempts to smear Justyce’s image by making him seem like a thug and a criminal, cropping photos of him and disregarding his statements about the incident between him, his best friend, and an off-duty white police officer.

A juxtaposition is created by the image the media paints about Justyce and his true personality. The educated vocabulary Justyce uses and his high academic standing are compared against the stereotypical image of a thug as he suddenly becomes a person of media interest.

The challenges Justyce face in the aftermath of the incident put current events in different perspectives and serve as a reminder to account for media bias in the news we receive on a daily basis.

About the Author:

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

Reviews:

“Raw and gripping.” Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling coauthor of All American Boys

“A must-read!” Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give

“ [A] roller-coaster ride of a debut…” Kirkus Reviews

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Review by Rachel H.