Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin by Nic Stone. 224 p. Random House Children's Books, October, 2017. 9781101939499. (Borrowed from public library.)

Like Starr in that other auspicious debut, Justyce McAllister straddles two worlds, only he boards at his tony prep school and doesn't have the intact family and extensive extended family support that Starr had. He's a top student with his eyes on an Ivy league education; but he begins to question all that when he is arrested as a suspected carjacker when all he was trying to do was help his drunk ex-girlfriend get home safely. Luckily for him, his friends and their parents have his back and charges are soon dropped, but the experience causes him to question everything and everyone. He tries to sort through his feelings by writing letters to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Interspersed between his letters and the narration of events are bits of dialogue.

Stone packs a lot into this relatively short book. There will be tears and anger. While some characters receive short shrift (I for one, wanted to know more about his tough-love mother), readers, both reluctant and avid alike, will tear through this and have much to think on. I have a student who discovered Jason Reynolds' book Ghost at the end of his seventh grade year. He came back to eighth grade wanting Patina, then read every one of Reynolds' books before moving on to Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down and Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give. He devoured Dear Martin as well.

I read this one with my ears. While narrator, Dion Graham turned in his usual stellar performance, the lists and sections of dialogue are more difficult to convey. Either way, Dear Martin is a must-read and must purchase for high school and public libraries.

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