Monday, 7 May 2018

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure. – (Author's website).

Do I just take what they dish out, try to stop being "so sensitive"? What do I do when my very identity is being mocked by people who refuse to admit there's a problem?

Justyce McAllister is a smart, accomplished black teen from a bad neighbourhood who worked hard to get a place at a prestigious (and very white) prep school. One night he tries to help his wasted ex-girlfriend out of a potentially messy situation (she is trying to drive home very, very drunk) but he is racially profiled by a white cop who treats him like a criminal and Jus has to experience police brutality first-hand. His whole world is shook. He has worked so hard to be good, to not be seen as one of ‘those guys’ but he is still treated like a thug. For the first time in his life he decides to start paying attention to what’s going on around him instead of ignoring it or glossing over it. He begins writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr about everything from arguments with his best friend, to the racist comments made by boys in his class (that refuse to believe that racism still exists – while being incredible racist!)

“Yeah, there are no more “colored” water fountains, and it’s supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but if I can be forced to sit on the concrete in too-tight cuffs when I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s clear there’s an issue. That things aren’t as equal as folks say they are.”

I actually had to stop reading at one point, because you would think that being treated like a piece of trash would be the low point of Justyce’s life – but things get So. Much. Worse. The situation was so frustrating, and I felt so horrible for the struggles that Justyce McAllister was facing – those same struggles that are faced by so many people of colour all over the world. But it was so beautifully written, and thankfully (tiny spoiler) had an ending that was full of hope (the idea that things can get better, people can change).

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was by far my favourite book of last year, and now Dear Martin might just be my favourite of this year. While T.H.U.G looks at the shooting of unarmed black men and boys through the eyes of a female witness, Dear Martin instead offers what it is like to be one of those racially-profiled black men.

"In that moment, when I thought I was dying, it hit me: despite how good of a dude Martin was, they still killed him, man."

Posted by Sas

Catalogue link: Dear Martin

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