In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, I am reviewing Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I had only planned on posting reviews to novels that I have read this year, but as there is only so much time in a day, I am making an exception. That, and I really enjoyed this book in the waning hours of this past December, and I felt that today would be a good time to share more about it. So, without further ado, here we go.
The story begins with a young man, by the name of Justyce McAllister, trying to help out his ex-girlfriend. She is drunk, and attempting to drive herself. Rather than walking away from the scene, as a friend suggests he should do, Justyce chooses to attempt to get her safely home. This leads to the incident that incites Justyce’s mental awakening that carries on throughout the book.
Owing to the fact that there are now countless cases of unjust racial profiling in this country and around the world where the individuals being unfairly treated were not able to walk away, this has sparked a literary response naturally, which calls out the abuse perpetuated based on racism and detrimental stereotypes. Each book is unique, but I was grateful to see that Justyce did in fact survive this encounter, as some of his real life counter parts have not. Make no mistake though, Nic Stone does not hold back any punches in this hard hitting and necessary book, given the times we live in.
Throughout the novel I found myself cheering along for Justyce as he worked through how to navigate high school as a young black man whose epiphany had him re-evaluating every action he carried out, his journey to act more like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and whether or not he should entertain the idea of a relationship with someone he deeply cared about given that his mother would disapprove for the sole fact that the object of his affections is white. Nic Stone’s writing made me care about Justyce not just because he was instrumental to moving the plot forward or the story at all, but because his character had heart. I could empathize with him in his lowest moments and cheer for him when he felt on top of the world, because he was written in a way that made me feel like he was a real person. Even though I had never experienced even a portion of what he had, I could still understand the universal themes in the story as well, such as the struggle of figuring out who you are in HS, and the need to be good enough for a parent. These themes transcend color and race, because they are what a majority of the world struggles with at some point during adolescence, or life in general. However, his lens as a person of color made it that much more important as a whole. I was allowed to see outside of my perspective, and learn about another person, or people, who deal with the problems he faced in the novel, but every day. In this political climate, being able to step into each other’s shoes and see each other as human, is more crucial than ever.
Outside of Justyce’s character, the rest were written much the same. Each one took on a life of their own and became someone I could easily see finding out in every day life. The social commentary and dialogue throughout was amazing as well. Compound that with the rest of what is within this book, and it makes for a page turning read that cannot be put down.
In conclusion, this book touched my heart and evoked emotions in me. I am grateful to have read it, and I hope others do too, regardless of skin color. My opinion, in the grand scheme though, matters little. This book, and others like it, matter more. So if this all sounds appealing to you, then go out and read it.
I rated this book 5/5 on Goodreads.
Disclaimer: All of these opinions are my own. I do not receive any sort of compensation for the review that I have posted today.