“Dear Martin” is a first-person perspective of what it means to be a young Black male–or target, rather– in America. After the many shootings and killings of unarmed Black teenagers for petty crimes or even misdemeanors within the past 2-3 years, Nic Stone’s novel is timely and relatable.
Justyce McAllister is among the extraordinary; he is at the top of his class and was recently accepted into Yale University. He strives to play the “good guy” role, avoiding close-related gang members such as his cousin and neighbors and focusing on his academic future.
However, Justyce can’t avoid the fear and prejudices of other people after being handcuffed for no reason other than a random police officer suspecting him for his skin color. The incident shines a light on his White counterparts’ behavior, such as his friend Jared using racial undertones as jokes.
His family and friends also add to the tension. His friend Manny seems to be following along with Jared and his crew without a second glance at their behavior; his girlfriend-turned-ex-girlfriend keeps adding the drama to his life, and his obligation to the high-school debate team deems hard to handle and awkward when racial inequality becomes a hot topic.
Despite this, he habitually writes letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a means of strength and to answer the age-old question: What is the point in doing good when you’re always profiled as bad? Through time and similarly trying circumstances, Justyce learns more about himself and how to overcome these issues while maintaining a sense of dignity and pride in who he is.
No surprise, Mrs. Stone worked extensively in teen mentoring and grew up with a wide range of cultural religions and backgrounds. “Dear Martin” is meant to bring diverse voices and stories together.
Written by: Tariqah Shakir
I currently reside in Dolton, studying graphic design and journalism. I am your typical
bibliophile and enjoy creating artwork and writing as a hobby.
I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.