I read Dear Martin in 2020 and needed to read Dear Justyce as well. For those of you who don’t know much about me, I am a 60 something, white woman who knew that racism was alive and well, but didn’t realize or understand exactly what people meant by “White Privilege”. Reading these two books certainly opened my eyes and peeled away the blinders. I definitely recommend that these books be read by anyone and everyone, especially in high schools.
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
For a short book, Dear Martin really packs a punch and is very timely and important. It tackles issues of police brutality, racism, class struggles, poverty, and adolescence. Justyce is a young man who is trying to be the best he can be. I loved his character and thought he was written very well. He was a young man forced to deal with racism, and white privilege from his so-called friends and those he doesn’t know. After a very personal incident, he starts writing letters to Martin Luther King, in the hope of becoming more like him, but it won’t be easy. This is a short story, so some plotlines were rushed and there were times that the flow was interrupted a bit, but overall, a very powerful story that I recommend everyone read, especially those that think white privilege is not a thing. The ending shocked me, and had me in tears. I am definitely going to read Dear Justyce and look for other books by Nic Stone.
About the Book (From Goodreads): 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.
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Dear Justyce by Nic Stone is a great YA own voices novel about the American juvenile justice system, specifically how it treats young black men. Dear Justyce is an excellent sequel to Dear Martin. It can be read as a standalone, but I definitely recommend you read Dear Martin first. In this book, we read Quan’s story. He made an appearance in Dear Martin, as he is Manny’s cousin. Quan has not had an easy life, starting with his parents split, his dad’s incarceration, his mother hooking up with an abuser, his favourite teacher leaving the school and accusations of cheating. When it feels like everyone has abandoned him, he turns to a local gang. The story is told from his POV. He is now in detention awaiting trial for murder. He writes letters to Justyce sharing what he remembers from his youth and how he is feeling now.
Nic Stone does an amazing job of sharing the perspective of black teenagers. These characters are so real and my heart broke for them. Being able to get inside their heads, to hear their stories and see how they were treated compared to white teenagers. I thought I was beginning to understood what people meant by “White Privilege” but I am still not there yet. It is also important to read the author notes at the end of the story, they also helped me to understand things that I did not understand before. I highly recommend Dear Justyce to fans of Dear Martin, or those wanting to learn and understand the plight of black men.
About the Book (From Goodreads): In the stunning and hard-hitting sequel to the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American prison system.
Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan’s story unravels.
From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone’s newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.