Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
I have received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Dear Martin is the story of Justyce, who gets top marks at school and dreams of going to Yale. One night, his ex-girlfriend Melo gets very drunk and he attempts to take her home and not let her drive in that state, but before he knows it, two cops arrive and handcuff him, under allegation that he was trying to carjack her. Assaulted and mistreated, even Melo’s testimony for him barely is enough to get him out of jail. After that, Jus can’t ignore anymore the microagressions at school and the major problems in the system and the police when dealing with black people. So he starts writing letters to Martin Luther King, in the hope of becoming more like him. But it won’t be easy, and much more awaits him.
This book is a punch to the gut compacted in a little over 200 pages. Stone’s style is raw, unapologetic and a bit dry. It feels to me that the book could have done with more descriptions and more narration, as it’s very dialogue-heavy and I wish it’d been longer. Despite that, the read was very intense and had me holding my breath and getting so angry I had to make a few breaks from reading. At the same time, I couldn’t stop reading it – it’s such an intense read and it makes you mentally scream with anger and frustration.
I loved Justyce and SJ, although the chemistry between them felt slightly unconvincing – probably because of the shortness of the book. It opened my eyes to the Black Lives Matter movement’s causes and experiences I will never have but I want and need to be aware of. It feels to me that this book is siblings with The Hate U Give, both protagonists being black in a mostly white school trying to learn how to navigate without losing their identity.
Despite its shortness, this isn’t a light book. It kept me thinking, and it’s supposed to make you angry. I definitely felt the emotion Nic Stone put into the writing and it left me quite burning with anger, sadness and grief. But also hope. Dear Martin is a read that will move you and I highly recommend it!
Trigger warnings: racism, physical violence.