Monday, January 15, 2018

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

24974996.jpg (315×475)Lots of authors are publishing gritty, raw stories grounded in current events and this book by Nic Stone is another that falls into this category. The young man on the cover bears an uncanny resemblance to Trayvon Martin what with the hoody and all. Also on the cover is a quote from author Jason Reynolds proclaiming the novel to be "raw and gripping". That quote alone was enough to make me pick this book up as it will for many readers, I am sure.

Justyce is bright, articulate and for the most part just a regular high school kid trying to make it to graduation and then make his way to a prestigious college if all goes well. In the novel's intro we meet him trying to do right by his on again, off again girlfriend Melo who is about to make a bad decision. His actions are somehow misconstrued by a passing police officer and before he knows it Justyce ends up face down with a face full of asphalt. This is only the precursor to what is destined to be an eventful Senior year to say the least.

As it so happens Justyce's grades have allowed him to gain entry to one of Atlanta's most prestigious private schools where seemingly every teacher has at least three degrees. Most of the students are bright, many come from well to do families such as his best friend Manny whose parents are successful professionals. As you would expect, the campus is not very diverse and some of the students display white privilege (perhaps a bit too predictably by lamenting the fact that minorities have it "easy") Justyce's way of dealing with the many, many changes occurring in his life is to write letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He's studied the Civil Rights leader's speeches in class and is trying to reconcile the words and the values espoused therein with the realities of daily life. As if that isn't complicated enough, there is also the not so small matter of the evolving relationship with his debate partner SJ.

I've read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and this novel is just as gripping, timely and relevant. Stone does a great job balancing the heavy stuff with some touchy feely stuff so it isn't too hard to digest. Well worth a read.

No comments :