Monday, December 18, 2017

Dear Martin ~ Nic Stone review [@getnicced @penguinteen]

Dear Martin
Crown Books for Young Readers
October 17, 2017
210 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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

Dear Martin  is what a lot of other novels about race and/or racism - both adult and YA books - have tried to be. The author has picked an ideal setting and characters to tell this story. There was great diversity in Dear Martin's characters: racially (at least with black and white characters, less soc with other races or ethnicities), socioeconomically, even when it came to view points on race and race relations.

Justyce was someone planning for an Ivy League education and at the top of his class. He was also someone who had not always been a part of that privileged, prep school life.  I enjoyed that we had his character who was familiar with both 'worlds' but also characters who only knew one or the other. It gives readers some great perspective and great insights.

We get a lot of very frank, very honest, not always educated and not PC discussion through the characters debate class. I loved the range of their opinions and how the author didn't dismiss any of them, even if they were horrible or ludicrous or misinformed (or just plan racist). Those discussions were a very smart way to have the characters talk about things they otherwise might not have, in ways and with those they would not have, otherwise.

I especially loved how real Nic Stone's characters were. They each held whatever beliefs they held for their own reasons - things that had happened in the past, information they gathered (or a lack thereof), familial beliefs, pop culture, current events, etc. Yet, neither the characters nor their beliefs were set in stone. There were great allowances for change and growth - even for those characters (okay one or two in particular) that I had all but written off. It was very hopeful while not feeling naive.

Nic Stone's Dear Martin is an incredibly real, pertinent, smart, thoughtful and though provoking read and I am absolutely eager to see what she publishes next.

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