This review is spoiler free.
“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”
Published: 2018, by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teen
Contains: Strong Language, Racism, Violence, Death, Blood/Gore, Drugs/Alcohol
‘Dear Martin’ tells the story of Justyce McAllister, a boy top of his class and set for the Ivy League. However, none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Once free from his clutches, Justyce turns to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for advice in the form of a journal, but do they hold up anymore?
This book has been in my To Read pile since its release a few years ago. I’ve been meaning to pick it up for ages, but with the intense content, I was unsure when I’d be in the right mental state to start. Needless to say, I’m glad I finally had the courage to read Justyce’s tale.
Nic Stone can write enticing characters, there’s no doubting that. Justyce McAllister makes for a wonderful protagonist. Right from the start you understand his turmoil and can sympathise with him, as event after event pushes him further down into a pit of despair. He’s realistic, intelligent and deeply empathetic to those around him. He’s in tune with his emotions and continuously makes decisions that will benefit those around him. Although, mistakes were made, he immediately makes up and learns from them. It was refreshing to read.
The secondary characters were also equally captivating, exploring further point of views of Justyce’s struggles. SJ stood at his side, witnessing second-hand the pain he was experiencing. Manny was desperately clinging to denial, hoping that his friends would wake up and understand what was happening around him, whilst Jared was wearing the antagonist shoes in an extremely naive way. It was refreshing, raw and undeniably realistic.
The novel itself is told in as little as two hundred pages, however, it hits you hard from start to finish. The themes discussed are incredibly important, discussing racism and discrimination in an incredibly realistic and painful manner. There’s no sugarcoating the situation, and Stone does a beautiful job of ensuring readers understand and empathise with those targeted. The writing style continues that captivating flow, moving from event to event with very little room to breathe, whilst the dialogue is witty and entertaining enough to keep your attention.
Overall, I deeply enjoyed this novel. The rawness and realism that it holds is enough to keep you entertained from beginning to end, and its abrupt ending isn’t enough to kick it down.