Wednesday, June 28, 2017

DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone

Dear Martin

ARC courtesy of publisher at ALA conference.

DEAR MARTIN is a novel ripped from the headlines. Like THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas and HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon, debut author Nic Stone takes readers into the current issue of racism and police brutality. One unique difference is the main character's attempt to reach out to the late Martin Luther King Jr. as he struggles to make sense of the often tragic world around him.

Justyce McAllister is a senior in high school. His mother works hard so he can attend a prestigious school that will prepare him for a chance to earn a spot at a good college. Her sacrifice pays off when Jus learns he is accepted at Yale.

Unfortunately, Yale is still a year away and much will happen before Jus gets to begin his college career. First, comes the traumatic experience of being handcuffed by police after simply trying to do the right thing. The event haunts him as he tries to negotiate the difficult journey of attending a mostly white school filled with rich, privileged kids who never had to struggle one day in their lives. Stereotypes prevail but Jus is determined to succeed on the debate team and make his mother proud.

One day Jus finds himself stopped at a traffic light in a car with his best friend Manny. Some white guy in the neighboring car demands that Manny turn his music down. There's an unpleasant exchange that ends with Manny turning the volume up. Three gunshots follow that will forever change Justyce's life.

Author Nic Stone uses a variety of text styles to tell the story of a young black teen trying to do the right thing. Readers will see the private thoughts of Justyce as he writes letters to the late MLK hoping to be inspired to live a life that will make his family proud. News accounts of several shootings reveal the tremendous inequality and tension between black teens and law enforcement and will take readers in a totally different direction and help them relate to a current issue facing teens around the country. DEAR MARTIN is a powerful, must-read novel for both teen and adult readers.

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