Dear Martin
Dear Martin

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Annotation: 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.
Catalog Number: #146978
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 210 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-10-193949-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-98883-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-10-193949-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-98883-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016058582
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Black seventeen-year-old Justyce experiences police violence and his prep school classmates assume his Yale acceptance is because of affirmative action, yet his neighbors call him a "race-traitor." Justyce's letters to Martin Luther King Jr., alternating with the main narrative, are an effective device: what would Dr. King think about recent headlines that inspired the novel? Stone avoids easy resolutions and lets hope reside in unexpected places.
Kirkus Reviews
In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys. Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his "homie" Dr. King. He writes, "I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I'd be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?" While he's ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there's not as much that separates him from "THOSE black guys" as he'd like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers' sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce's neighborhood. There's nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren't the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines. Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)
Publishers Weekly
First-time author Stone explores an African-American student-s increasingly intense feelings of displacement in his predominantly white high school in a tense story that will grab readers- attention and make them think. Written as a mixture of script-style dialogues, third-person narrative, and letters to Martin Luther King Jr., the novel explores high school senior Justyce McAllister-s confrontations with racism and his search for identity at a prestigious prep school, where he is one of only eight black students. After nearly getting arrested while trying to help his ex-girlfriend, who-s -stone drunk- and trying to drive herself home, Justyce becomes acutely aware of racial profiling and prejudice close to home. Pushed to the brink of despair when a close friend is shot by a white off-duty police officer, Justyce doesn-t know what to do with his anger. Though some characters are a bit one-dimensional (including Justyce-s debate partner/romantic interest and the interchangeable bros at his school), this hard-hitting book delivers a visceral portrait of a young man reckoning with the ugly, persistent violence of social injustice. Ages 14-up. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpJustyce is an African American teen caught between two worlds. He knows that the education he's receiving at a private school will grant him more economic opportunities, however he begins to question the effects his private school education on his own identity. Some of his classmates believe that the racial pendulum has swung too far, giving African Americans an unfair advantage over their white counterparts. The kids he grew up with believe Justyce has assimilated too much and has forgotten where he came from. He questions his blackness, his relationship with his biracial girlfriend, and his attraction to his white debate partner Sarah Jane. Through a series of journal entries, Justyce attempts to figure out his place in the world by exploring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. A violent altercation between a retired white police officer and his best friend causes Justyce to examine what it means to be an African American male in 2017. The length and pace of this well-written story make it a perfect read for reluctant and sophisticated readers alike. The main characters are well balanced and will resonate with teens. However, the voice of African American women is largely absent from the narrative. The characterization of Justyce's mother and his girlfriend are one-dimensional compared to some of the other protagonists. Still, this important work should be read alongside Jason Reynolds's and Brendan Kiely's All-American Boys and Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down. VERDICT An good choice for school and public libraries.Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Perhaps a bright young man who is fourth in his graduating class, captain of the debate team, and on his way to an Ivy League school shouldn't have too many worries. But Justyce McAllister's grades have no influence on the police officer who handcuffs him while he's trying to help his inebriated ex-girlfriend. The African American teen is shocked and angered when the officer is cleared of all charges, and so he turns to the written work of Martin Luther King Jr. for direction, inspiration, and therapy. He presents a simple question to the late civil rights leader: "What would you do, Martin?" After Justyce witnesses the fatal shooting of his best friend by an off-duty officer, and his name is negatively spread through the media, he begins to withdraw from friends and family, only finding solace in his teacher, new girlfriend, and his continued ruminative letter writing to Dr. King. Stone's debut confronts the reality of police brutality, misconduct, and fatal shootings in the U.S., using an authentic voice to accurately portray the struggle of self-exploration teens like Justyce experience every day. Teens, librarians, and teachers alike will find this book a godsend in assisting discussions about dealing with police, as well as the philosophical underpinnings of King's work. Vivid and powerful.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (Tue Aug 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Horn Book (Sun Apr 01 00:00:00 CDT 2018)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (Fri Sep 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Wilson's High School Catalog
William C. Morris Award Finalist
Word Count: 39,880
Reading Level: 4.8
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.8 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 192070 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q72341
Guided Reading Level: J
chapter 1

From where he's standing across the street, Justyce can see her: Melo Taylor, ex-­girlfriend, slumped over beside her Benz on the damp concrete of the FarmFresh parking lot. She's missing a shoe, and the contents of her purse are scattered around her like the guts of a pulled party popper. He knows she's stone drunk, but this is too much, even for her.

Jus shakes his head, remembering the judgment all over his best friend Manny's face as he left Manny's house not fifteen minutes ago.

The walk symbol appears.

As he approaches, she opens her eyes, and he waves and pulls his earbuds out just in time to hear her say, "What the hell are you doing here?"

Justyce asks himself the same question as he watches her try--­and fail--­to shift to her knees. She falls over sideways and hits her face against the car door.

He drops down and reaches for her cheek--­which is as red as the candy-­apple paint job. "Damn, Melo, are you okay?"

She pushes his hand away. "What do you care?"

Stung, Justyce takes a deep breath. He cares a lot. Obviously. If he didn't, he wouldn't've walked a mile from Manny's house at three in the morning (Manny's of the opinion that Melo's "the worst thing that ever happened" to Jus, so of course he refused to give his boy a ride). All to keep his drunken disaster of an ex from driving.

He should walk away right now, Justyce should.

But he doesn't.

"Jessa called me," he tells her.

"That skank--­"

"Don't be like that, babe. She only called me because she cares about you."

Jessa had planned to take Melo home herself, but Mel threatened to call the cops and say she'd been kidnapped if Jessa didn't drop her at her car.

Melo can be a little dramatic when she's drunk.

"I'm totally unfollowing her," she says (case in point). "In life and online. Nosy bitch."

Justyce shakes his head again. "I just came to make sure you get home okay." That's when it hits Justyce that while he might succeed in getting Melo home, he has no idea how he'll get back. He closes his eyes as Manny's words ring through his head: This Captain Save-­A-­Ho thing is gonna get you in trouble, dawg.

He looks Melo over. She's now sitting with her head leaned back against the car door, half-­asleep, mouth open.

He sighs. Even drunk, Jus can't deny Melo's the finest girl he's ever laid eyes--­not to mention hands--­on.

She starts to tilt, and Justyce catches her by the shoulders to keep her from falling. She startles, looking at him wide-­eyed, and Jus can see everything about her that initially caught his attention. Melo's dad is this Hall of Fame NFL linebacker (biiiiig black dude), but her mom is from Norway. She got Mrs. Taylor's milky Norwegian complexion, wavy hair the color of honey, and amazing green eyes that are kind of purple around the edge, but she has really full lips, a small waist, crazy curvy hips, and probably the nicest butt Jus has ever seen in his life.

That's part of his problem: he gets too tripped up by how beautiful she is. He never would've dreamed a girl as fine as her would be into him.

Now he's got the urge to kiss her even though her eyes are red and her hair's a mess and she smells like vodka and cigarettes and weed. But when he goes to push her hair out of her face, she shoves his hand away again. "Don't touch me, Justyce."

She starts shifting her stuff around on the ground--­lipstick, Kleenex, tampons, one of those circular thingies with the makeup in one half and a mirror in the other, a flask. "Ugh, where are my keeeeeeeys?"

Justyce spots them in front of the back tire and snatches them up. "You're not driving, Melo."

"Give 'em." She swipes for the keys but falls into his arms instead. Justyce props her against the car again and gathers the rest of her stuff to put it back in her bag--­which is large enough to hold a week's worth of groceries (what is it with girls and purses the size of duffel bags?). He unlocks the car, tosses the bag on the floor of the backseat, and tries to get Melo up off the ground.

Then everything goes really wrong, really fast.

First, she throws up all over the hoodie Jus is wearing.

Which belongs to Manny. Who specifically said, "Don't come back here with throw-­up on my hoodie."

Perfect.

Jus takes off the sweatshirt and tosses it in the backseat.

When he tries to pick Melo up again, she slaps him. Hard. "Leave me alone, Justyce," she says.

"I can't do that, Mel. There's no way you'll make it home if you try to drive yourself."

He tries to lift her by the armpits and she spits in his face.

He considers walking away again. He could call her parents, stick her keys in his pocket, and bounce. Oak Ridge is probably the safest neighborhood in Atlanta. She'd be fine for the twenty-­five minutes it would take Mr. Taylor to get here.

But he can't. Despite Manny's assertion that Melo needs to "suffer some consequences for once," leaving her here all vulnerable doesn't seem like the right thing to do. So he picks her up and tosses her over his shoulder.

Melo responds in her usual delicate fashion: she screams and beats him on the back with her fists.

Justyce struggles to get the back door open and is lowering her into the car when he hears the WHOOOOP of a short siren and sees the blue lights. In the few seconds it takes the police car to screech to a stop behind him, Justyce settles Melo into the backseat.

Now she's gone catatonic.

Justyce can hear the approaching footsteps, but he stays focused on getting Melo strapped in. He wants it to be clear to the cop that she wasn't gonna drive so she won't be in even worse trouble.

Before he can get his head out of the car, he feels a tug on his shirt and is yanked backward. His head smacks the doorframe just before a hand clamps down on the back of his neck. His upper body slams onto the trunk with so much force, he bites the inside of his cheek, and his mouth fills with blood.

Jus swallows, head spinning, unable to get his bearings. The sting of cold metal around his wrists pulls him back to reality.

Handcuffs.

It hits him: Melo's drunk beyond belief in the backseat of a car she fully intended to drive, yet Jus is the one in handcuffs.

The cop shoves him to the ground beside the police cruiser as he asks if Justyce understands his rights. Justyce doesn't remember hearing any rights, but his ears had been ringing from the two blows to the head, so maybe he missed them. He swallows more blood.

"Officer, this is a big misundersta--­" he starts to say, but he doesn't get to finish because the officer hits him in the face.

"Don't you say shit to me, you son of a bitch. I knew your punk ass was up to no good when I saw you walking down the road with that goddamn hood on."

So the hood was a bad idea. Earbuds too. Probably would've noticed he was being trailed without them. "But, Officer, I--­"

"You keep your mouth shut." The cop squats and gets right in Justyce's face. "I know your kind: punks like you wander the streets of nice neighborhoods searching for prey. Just couldn't resist the pretty white girl who'd locked her keys in her car, could ya?"

Except that doesn't even make sense. If Mel had locked the keys in the car, Jus wouldn't have been able to get her inside it, would he? Justyce finds the officer's nameplate; castillo, it reads, though the guy looks like a regular white dude. Mama told him how to handle this type of situation, though he must admit he never expected to actually need the advice: Be respectful; keep the anger in check; make sure the police can see your hands (though that's impossible right now). "Officer Castillo, I mean you no disresp--­"

"I told your punk ass to shut the fuck up!"

He wishes he could see Melo. Get her to tell this cop the truth. But the dude is blocking his view.

"Now, if you know what's good for you, you won't move or speak. Resistance will only land you in deeper shit. Got it?"

Cigarette breath and flecks of spit hit Justyce's face as the cop speaks, but Justyce fixes his gaze on the glowing green F of the FarmFresh sign.

"Look at me when I'm talking to you, boy." He grabs Justyce's chin. "I asked you a question."

Justyce swallows. Meets the cold blue of Officer Castillo's eyes. Clears his throat.

"Yes sir," he says. "I got it."

Excerpted from Dear Martin by Nic Stone
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Discussion Guide: Dear Martin Discussion Guide

"Powerful, wrenching.” –JOHN GREEN, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down

"Raw and gripping." –JASON REYNOLDS, New York Times bestselling coauthor of All American Boys

"A must-read!” –ANGIE THOMAS, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give

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 New York Times bestselling debut, a William C. Morris Award Finalist.


Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. 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.

"Vivid and powerful." -Booklist, Starred Review
 
"A visceral portrait of a young man reckoning with the ugly, persistent violence of social injustice." -Publishers Weekly


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