Dear Martin

by Nic Stone

Paperback, 2018





Ember (2018), Edition: Reprint, 240 pages


Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.


Soaring Eagle Book Award (Nominee — 2022)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 2020)
Indies Choice Book Award (Honor Book — Young Adult — 2018)
Blue Hen Book Award (Nominee — 2020)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

240 p.; 8.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member jennybeast
Our world is so messed up.

This, however, is a book powerful in empathy, impossible to put down, and deeply pointed as it looks one of the most messed up parts of America -- our inability to protect or believe in our black men. The book's brilliant. The world sucks.
LibraryThing member Dairyqueen84
Realistic portrait of how racism still pervades American society and how one young man tries to cope with it by asking "What would Martin do?"
LibraryThing member ShellyPYA
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member lispylibrarian
FAN-FREAKING -TASTIC!! Nic Stone makes you think about how we judge others by their skin color before knowing them and how we need to change that. Dear Martin is told from the perspective of an African-American prep school student, Justyce, who is on track to attend an Iv League university. He has
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a perfect SAT and ACT score and he works incredibly hard, but one night when he is keeping a friend from drunk driving, he is arrested and accused of trying to break into a car. This changes everything for Jus. He begins writing letters to MLK, Jr trying to understand his teachings. As the story progresses, he focuses more and more on how others see him and how he is judged by his skin color. He is caught in the crosshairs when gun shots are fired and he becomes a part of something much bigger than himself.

I LOOVEDDD IT! The prose switches from regular prose to cscript form during conversations, so there is no "fluff," and the reader gets the full impact of those conversations.

Watch my vlog review at:
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LibraryThing member CJPG
I read a lot of YA literature and this one is a must read in my opinion. I was deeply moved on so many levels. Very thought provoking, indeed.
LibraryThing member norabelle414
Justyce McAllister is one of only a few black students attending a prestigious private high school outside of Atlanta. His life, as a young black man, involves dealing with almost daily issues of race. He is wrongfully arrested when trying to help a drunk friend, his white classmates tell him that
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racism is over, kids from his old neighborhood call him a sell-out for attending a mostly-white school, and he can’t decide if he should date a white girl on his debate team. Justyce tries to process these events in his life by writing letters as if he were writing to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I preface this opinion with a mention that this book is not written for me and I do not expect it to be. Any addition of diverse viewpoints to the greater cannon of YA literature is certainly welcome, but I didn’t find the plot to be very cohesive. It felt like a lot of connection and detail was missing, and this slim 208 page book could easily have been twice as long. It seemed to be a less well-plotted version of The Hate U Give. Justyce felt a lot younger than 17 or 18 and the book might have worked better as a middle-grade book. I didn’t understand how Justyce’s school has a class called “Societal Evolution” but most of the students in it are not aware that racism exists, or why the teacher of the class didn’t teach them about it. I don’t understand why two black boys would continue to be friends with a guy who wears a full authentic KKK uniform for Halloween. Justyce’s thoughts and actions don’t make sense to me (which I think would have been rectified by the book being longer). I also did not care for the writing style, where some conversations (but not all) are written like a script, “(speaker): (line)”, new paragraph, "(speaker): (line)", new paragraph, "(speaker): (line)". This very casual style might have worked if the conversations were presented as part of Justyce’s letters to Martin, but they were not.
This is the author’s first novel, so although this book didn’t speak to me I will look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
LOVED THIS! So very timely! Fans of "The Hate U Give" and other Black Lives Matter young adult books will eat this up. Dear Martin examines, race, inequality, privilege, stereotypes, standing up for yourself, and double standards. I could not stop listening to this audio-book, it was only four
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discs long and I was riveted. I had to know what happened, I got emotionally invested in this story. Justice attends a fancy private school in Atlanta and is one of the few black kids there. He's on the debate team, well liked, and dating the hottest girl in school but after he is wrongfully arrested while trying to help his girlfriend he can't stop seeing the disparities around him. The racial inequality, the snide remarks, the higher arrest rates, the differences in income, how has he never noticed all this before? Justice struggles to make sense of everything when another tragedy strikes, one that nearly breaks him. A wonderful read that challenges the listener (or reader) to really think about how far we have to go. Required reading.
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LibraryThing member rdwhitenack
A really good, quick read that still manages to be thought provoking. Justyce is a black teenager that struggles with all the normal things boys of that age do: girls, school, friends, identity. The book begins with Justyce being kind and compassionate to a light-skinned friend of his, but the
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incident ends with him being roughly arrested for crimes he did not commit. Justyce is set free, but he cannot let the incident go. The marks on his wrist and the emotional pain resonate for the rest of the book. After the incident Justyce begins to reflect more deeply on race. This causes two things... one, for him to begin studying the writing of Dr. MLK Jr. and writing him letters (hence the name of the book), and, two, for him to begin examining the behaviors of those around him, especially his mixed-race cousin, Manny, and Manny's circle of white friends. Justyce notices a lot of racist micro and macro-aggressions that he is just expected to look past, get over, or stop being so sensitive about. Things escalate. New relationships are born. Old relationships fall apart. Lives are destroyed. People die.
Nic Stone did an awesome job writing this book, because she doesn't tell you how you should feel about any of the events. Theres is a death in the last 20 pages of the book that, in many ways, remains mysterious. I, and I don't think I am the only one, am conflicted about what to think of this death--is it proper revenge, or is it just another senseless loss that will perpetuate problems further.
I think a lot of young white readers would identify characteristics of themselves in the white characters of this book. Race is an afterthought to them, but to their black peers, race or skin color is an ever present reminder of their place in this world, or at least the place where many white people want them to be.
Would highly recommend to teen readers, based on content--it's a truly important story--and length of the work--struggling readers will appreciate how fast it flows.
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LibraryThing member acargile
A realistic fiction novel, Dear Martin, is a challenging read--not for its style, but for its content.

Justyce is a good kid--he treats people well and does well in school. The problem is that society assumes him to be a hoodlum. He’s from a poor area of town but attends a private, mostly white,
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prestigious school where he is able to board. He decides to write letters to Dr. Martin Luther King after being arrested for, essentially, being black. He was helping his girlfriend, but the cops assumed he was up to no good because he is black. This event leads to an awakening of how different life is for people of color.

Justyce begins to see life differently and finds “living like Martin” difficult. How do you not respond with violence? He also sees how his white friends talk around him, and he doesn’t understand why they don’t understand that it now bothers him. His best friend, Manny, takes time before he “sees” what Justyce means about being treated differently and having different expectations laid upon you.

I say this is a hard book because it’s not about responding to life’s unfairness with anger or violence, but you’ll feel angry reading the novel, no matter your color or opinion. The book shows that life is not fair, but violence isn’t the answer. The book believes the people can change despite the prejudices that do exist in society, even amongst friends. In the end, everyone matters and perception isn’t truth; truth is truth.
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LibraryThing member Stewart_Hoffman
This is a really solid read. Brutal, surprising, and moving. It’s not very long, but I believe it explores its themes well. Some of the more villainous characters were a touch cartoonish to me, but on the whole, I thought this painted a realistic journey for its protagonist, Justice.

I couldn’t
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help but make comparisons to Angie Thomas’s, The Hate U Give. Since they both follow a young student caught between two worlds amidst racial tensions following an unlawful killing. Both books take different approaches, and both books are page turners. I recommend you read them both.
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LibraryThing member startwithgivens
I hate to be a cliche, but if you enjoyed The Hate U Give, then you will enjoy this book as well. I found Dear Martin to be less emotionally draining than The Hate U Give, but equally as important in our current climate.

Justyce sets out to do a social experiment, in which he aims to be more like
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Martin Luther King, Jr. I felt that this was a very underlying theme throughout the book, and if the characters had not reminded me that it was an ongoing experiment, I am not sure that I would have remembered. That said, I liked this angle towards a systemic problem (racism).

I also felt like the events in Justyce's life were incredibly realistic. He has friends who are both black and white, he has a single mother, he has one black teacher in his life, I could go on and on. I guess, when it comes down to it, I saw a lot of my own life in the novel and therefore it felt realistic. I also enjoyed that it wasn't a whiny teenage novel, and rather a teenager looking critically at the world around him because he had to. I believe this fact is being increasingly overlooked in YA novels, and it shouldn't be. The fact of the matter is that some kids are forced to grow up at younger ages than others, and there need to be books out there for them too.
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LibraryThing member heidimaxinerobbins
This book deals with police violence and racism. Those are topics that our society has dealt with in recent years. I was happy with the way this book talked about those topics. This is the kind of book that can create a dialogue with people across the spectrum of beliefs. It showed extremes on both
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sides of thinking and how they can be detrimental. The main character, Justyce, writes letters to Dr Martin Luther King Jr in his journal. Justyce tells about his experiences and about living his live the way King taught, peacefully standing up for your beliefs. There is some language, teen drinking, and talk about buying marijuana illegally. This is for more mature readers.
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LibraryThing member abanmally
Justyce McAllister is an Ivy-League bound senior at the top of his class when he’s handcuffed and shaken up by a police officer. Even though he’s going to prep school away from his lower class neighborhood, he still gets the derision and racial bias of his classmates. Justyce starts writing
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letters to Martin Luther King Jr. to help deal with his feelings. Then one night he’s out with his friend Manny with the windows down and the music turned up. A white off-duty cop gets mad and shoots into their car, killing Manny. Justyce is caught in the media frenzy of the trial as he writes plaintive letters to MLK, trying to do well in a world that seems to want him to fail. A searing take on American race relations that echo current headlines, DEAR MARTIN is a title to read this year. Deals with heavy topics like race relations, death, violence, gangs and imprisonment. Recommended for grades 10 and up.
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LibraryThing member Beth.Clarke
Excellent YA novel dealing with racism. Very quick read.
LibraryThing member scottjpearson
Stone’s protagonist is super-smart student Justyce in his senior year at a high school in Atlanta. Thing is, he’s black. As such, he was falsely arrested at the beginning of the novel. He and his best friend were shot after an incident of presumed racial profiling. His best friend died, and
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Justyce has to testify in the case against the shooter.

Justyce also must deal with reverse racist issues. He falls in love with a fellow student – his debate partner – who is Caucasian. Justyce’s mother, however, does not like the idea of Justyce having a white girlfriend. As such, there is plenty of drama going on in Justyce’s life and plenty that we can learn from.

Justyce keeps a journal in which he writes to Dr. Martin Luther King (hence the name of the book). He tries to learn to emulate King’s non-violence but finds it incredibly hard to do. On the verge of adulthood and matriculation at Yale, Justyce sees the world as a place hostile to him as a young black man. He experiences several incidents of racism during this senior year. He comes to accept these while still being understandably angered at the same time.

In empathizing with the protagonist, I saw how hard life can be to young black men in America. Even when they try to be the best and to do the best, they must deal with hassle after hassle of misunderstandings and profiling. Many will only see them as thugs and have no sympathy for their attempts to rise above. Of course, Dr. King knew all of this by experience – a fact that is never lost on Justyce as he composes the journal entries.

We all can learn from those who suffer plights that they did not deserve. Justyce does not deserve to be associated as a “bad kid” just because of the color of his skin. Although we like to think that we as a society have overcome race, racial effects linger all too long. Stone’s writing and imagination brings these effects to life. In a previous life, she was involved with mentoring projects to youth. It shows. Justyce’s character is a realistic everyman who does not deserve his suffering.

This book is appropriate for young adults trying to make sense of the world. However, one should be aware of language and heavy topics. As a coming-of-age book, Stone’s work does not try to sugar-coat the injustices of the world. Its purpose is to educate and empower with knowledge, but sometimes it seems that such knowledge only falls short. Justyce’s ending is happy, hopeful, and promising, and one can only hope that outcome is given to all young black men in America. It’s just sad to hear what it takes to get there.
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LibraryThing member Susan.Macura
This is the debut work of author Nic Stone, and what a debut! She takes on the hot-button issues of racial profiling, the shooting deaths of unarmed black teens by cops and even the murder of white cops in the line of duty, whether provoked or unprovoked. Justyce, the name not a coincidence, is a
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black teen living between two worlds, coming from a one parent home in a poor part of the city but attending a mainly white, expensive private school where he excels, especially in debate club. He also falls for his debate partner, a white girl from a privileged background, whose parents are more accepting of him than his mother is of her. While the way Stone handles all of these issues, what makes this book even more moving is Justyce's letters explaining his feelings and thought processes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is a wonderful book filled with insights and information for all.
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LibraryThing member snickel63
I enjoyed this book, but it was not my favorite. The overall concept was well thought out about a young man "talking" to Martin Luther King, Jr. through his writing, but I felt like I could have used a bit more details at certain parts of the novel. I felt that it closed the story too quickly.
LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
The first half of this book is a bit fractured and messy, but the second half was devastating. Stone writes compellingly about loss and having to combat everyday racism at macro and micro levels. 4.5 stars.
LibraryThing member fredamans
One of the most powerful reads I've read.
Maybe because it hits too close to home.
With all the injustice happening in the world, this story was a vivid reality of what life is like for African-Americans, told by an African-American. People need to hear the stories to bring about change. We all need
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to stop turning a blind eye to any injustices that constantly surround our lives. These horrible things don't just happen in the US. It happens here in Canada and more. You would think racial attacks were a thing of the past, but they're not.
This book may be labeled as fiction, but it couldn't have felt more real.
Read it. Let it affect you. Then change.
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LibraryThing member Carol420
It’s a YA book, but so important for the times and the society we live in today. The book is 240 pages that you can absolutely finish in one sitting...because you can’t stop reading. I will warn you that no matter what ethnicity you will crush your heart. The characters are so real and
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100% awesome. Ordinary people trying to live the best lives they can and be honest, hardworking Americans. The book covers many topics from racial profiling...affirmative action...going along with racist jokes and much more. Not everyone will agree with it...not everyone will like it...but everyone will have to agree that it speaks volumes about where we are headed as a society if we don’t stop and take a deep breath.
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LibraryThing member fionaanne
Ms. Stone's ability to write dialogue blows me away.
LibraryThing member bell7
Justyce is just trying to help his drunk ex out, getting her into a car and going to drive her home, when police arrest him and won't let him talk or explain himself, deciding he must be carjacking her. Dealing with the aftermath of that incident, and knowing that he could have been killed, Jus
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begins a "be like Martin" project and starts writing letters about his experiences to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I really appreciated the depth of this book as Jus and his best friend, Manny, two of the few Black students in an elite private school and college-bound, deal with the challenges of being Black young men in America. Jus's letters to Martin are interspersed throughout, usually every few chapters, as he reflects on his responses and the kind of person he wants to be. The narrative is as riveting as Long Way Down, took a couple of turns I didn't expect, and shows the complexity of issues surrounding race and racism. There are a lot of heavy topics, but a lot of hope, too, and would make an excellent discussion book for teens or adults.
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LibraryThing member rgruberexcel
RGG: Very readable. Excellent read-alike to The Hate U Give. Reading Interest: 13-YA.
LibraryThing member rgruberexcel
RGG: Very readable. Excellent read-alike to The Hate U Give. Reading Interest: 13-YA.
LibraryThing member ewyatt
Jystice is one of a few black students at an exclusive prep school. He's near the top of his class, going to Yale, and yet, he finds himself in handcuffs when he is trying to get his ex-girlfriend home safely,. This shakes him.
He has a Dear Martin project, where he is studying the writings of MLK
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and writes reflection letters that are included in the text.

His best friend is a guy named Manny. Manny also has a large group of friends at the school that rub Jystice the wrong way with their comments that are racist but the friends often say that they are being "too sensitive" or taking things the wrong way.

A teachers and debate coach named Doc proves an important adult figure, of which there are several involved, caring parents and other adults within the book. But this can't protect Jystice from facing some difficult realities and figure out how to navigate in a world where he feels he doesn't fit, that is always suspicious of him because of how he looks.
A powerful read. As I read I thought about this as an alternative or a companion to teaching To Kill a Mockingbird. There is much about the justice system, racial profiling, societal perceptions of race, but in a contemporary setting.
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(290 ratings; 4.2)
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