Dear Martin is a YA contemporary which tackles American race relations. An extremely important novel especially due to recent events.
Before I continue on with this review, please remember that the Black Lives Matter Movement has not stopped and will not stop until justice is served. My post 270+ Books By Black Authors includes educational and donation links which I’d highly suggest checking out.
Warning, trigger warnings may contain spoilers:
Racism, police brutality, violence, death, misogyny, sexism.
Introduction To Dear Martin
This book is a short read jam packed with so many messages. From dealing with micro aggression, police brutality, toxic masculinity, gangs and stereotypes. Nic Stone plays on these stereotypes and shows that there is more to a person then a skin colour, expectation, stereotype. I also found it quite interesting the way Nic Stone wrote about how black people regarded themselves. How society has made an influence of their opinion of their race and themselves. For me, a five star book is one I won’t be able to stop thinking about. Dear Martin certainly fits the criteria for that.
Plot Of Dear Martin
I love the idea of Justyce writing letters to Martin Luther Jr King. I had the idea that the whole novel was written in letters, but this wasn’t the case. Also, I found the writing easy to read which adds to the bingeable element of this book. Although this book is raw and deals with the harsh realities of today, Nic Stone still managed to slip in humour so that it wouldn’t ever be too intense.
I loved how this book dealt with subtle racism too. It was shown in the typical opinion that I have come across, “racism doesn’t exist” or that POC/BIPOC make “everything about race”. This book made me angry and emotional, it’s heart wrenching. Because this isn’t fiction really, it’s reality. Nic Stone had some amazing character development for the character with this mindset. So whilst it’s intense, Dear Martin gave me such a hopeful vibe that perhaps people can change.
The discussion of gangs was not the focus, but it did make me think a lot. The media portrays them as aggressive and violent, whilst that can be true, gangs are a group of people coming together and sometimes forming a family. Perhaps gangs act in an aggressive manner because it is what the media expects of them. In general, I found the topic of toxic masculinity was handled so well.
Justyce is intelligent and is socially aware of many issues. I enjoyed reading the realistic approach of him often asking himself whether it was worth the noise to raise awareness about being a black man. When people mock the younger generation, people like Justyce gives me hope. His character development was incredible, to sum it up in a quote: “You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to ‘fit’? People who make history rarely do.”
Justyce has a crush on Sarah Jane (SJ) who is a Jewish white girl. She is a perfect example of white people knowing they have privellege and using it to help and educate others. Whilst sometimes she spoke up without realising that perhaps Justyce needed to at that moment, her intentions and her personality were good natured.
The fact that this book also mentions sexism too just makes me love it more. Justyce is afraid to tell his mother about SJ because she wants him to date black women as she has a certain image of what white people are like. But then on the other hand, Justyce’s friend Manny said he would prefer not to date a black woman and struggles to find them attractive due to their stereotypes. To me, it just shows that we all have something to work on, to better our mindsets.
Everyone needs to read this book. I don’t know why it’s not hyped or talked about as much, but it needs to be. Plus, I learnt so much despite it’s short length. I teared up, got hopeful, got frustrated. Dear Martin will be on my mind for some time.