Last week, I read the hardback edition of Dear Martin by Nic Stone, which is a young adult novel that I'd been looking forward to reading for awhile. I finally read it last week during the Bout of Books 23 Read-A-Thon and I am very glad I did.
What attracted me to this novel was the topic of racism as seen through the eyes of a teenage, African American male named Justyce McAllister. Justyce is a great kid, an honor student attending an elite preparatory school on a scholarship, and has been excepted into Yale University. But Justyce personally encounters racial profiling and brutality by two different cops on two different occasions. One event after another happens, which leaves Justyce trying to makes sense of what has happened to him as well as processing other relevant events going on in the world around him.
Justyce decides to take on the personal task of processing what's been going on by looking at the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. Justyce writes a series of letters to Martin Luther King Jr. inside a notebook he keeps as he tries to decide for himself how MLK Jr. would handle what's going on in his life and how to respond to what's going on in current events today.
Although I enjoyed reading Dear Martin by Nic Stone, I felt like this novel didn't live up to the hype for me. I think Nic Stone addresses some really hot topics that are very relevant in today's world with regards to racism and racial profiling. For the most part, I thought Ms. Stone presented the material well in her novel, but at times I felt like the way in which the material/events/characters were presented felt a tad cliched. I also wish the letters that Justyce had written to MLK Jr. had been a bit more substantial... Like perhaps more of Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophies had been expounded upon and shared within the letters. Additionally, I felt like the novel's ending was wrapped up too quickly and too neatly for me.
The following is a summary for Dear Martin by Nic Stone from Amazon:
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. 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.I am giving Dear Martin by Nic Stone a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!