This YA novel is similar to The Hate U Give in many ways--a black high school student, working hard in a private school with mostly white classmates, has run-ins with police that end in violence. In Dear Martin, Justyce studies the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and writes him letters, hoping for clarity in how he can stand up to injustice in a nonviolent way. As in The Hate U Give, Justyce finds himself torn between his black family and neighbors and his white friends, many of whom are convinced that black people have already achieved equality. Justyce, meanwhile, finds that just walking or driving while black can get him killed, and the smallest bit of evidence taken out of context--a photo, a conversation--is enough to label him a thug in both a court of law and the court of public opinion. This is a powerful, quick read, told mostly through dialogue and Justyce's letters to Martin. I sometimes have trouble with fiction audiobooks, but this was excellent.
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From the publisher’s description:
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.
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.