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Dear Martin

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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.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published October 17, 2017

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About the author

Nic Stone

38 books4,198 followers
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

Stone lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @getnicced or on her website nicstone.info.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,346 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
August 31, 2017
For some, it sounds like the kind of dystopian world inspired by The Hunger Games. A dark, dystopian future where young men are gunned down for doing nothing wrong. Imagine trying to live your life with the constant knowledge that you could be murdered for… wearing the wrong clothes… looking “shady”… or having the wrong colour skin. Imagine living this nightmare and STILL being told that it doesn’t happen anymore. That everyone is equal and, actually, YOU are given an advantage by affirmative action programs.

But this isn’t a dark dystopia. It’s the world we live in. Maybe it’s not a world I am forced to deal with. Or you. Or you over there. But it’s the world many black Americans face every day.

Dear Martin introduces us to Justyce - a strong and important voice in YA. There are so few YA books with POC narrators and especially lacking are those with non-white teen boys, so this book is particularly needed. Through third person narration alternating with Justyce's letters to Martin Luthor King Jr., we get insight into some of the experiences had by black teenage boys.

For those looking for books to complement The Hate U Give, this is a good place to start. While The Hate U Give 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.

It is not just about shooting, though. This book explores smaller but deeply hurtful acts of racially-charged aggression, such as the anger held by white students over affirmative action programs. Or the demand to "stop being so sensitive" in the face of race-related jokes. It is especially interesting when the author also considers the animosity Justyce receives from the black boys in his neighbourhood. He finds himself torn between the need to be true to his roots and his desire to succeed in a world that demands he play the white man's game to get ahead.

All that being said, it's not a perfect book. While many complex issues are considered, some aspects are simplistic and lacking in nuance. Justyce is an unquestionably nice, well-mannered boy who wants to follow in the “moral high ground” footsteps of MLK. While it is important to deconstruct the aggressive thug stereotype associated with young black men, teens this mild-mannered and uncomplicated are hard to believe in. I was a shy bookworm and even I had more bite than Justyce.

In contrast, all of the racism is very overt. The cops all stomp around punching black guys in the face and using the n-word, while Justyce's white classmates are so stupidly and openly racist to the point where one of them thinks it's funny to go to a party dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member. Does this level of abhorrent behaviour happen? Absolutely! But the real problem we face today is more insidious, more subtle, hiding behind a "I just feared for my life, your honour". In reality, it is much more complex than good vs. bad where the bad wears a white hood and shouts racist insults. That is why young black men are so at risk and their murderers so likely to escape justice - because the most dangerous racists no longer wear the t-shirt.

I would have also liked to see more of a challenge to the misogyny. I wouldn't say it's glorified, but it is never addressed when Manny, a black boy, says he dislikes black girls because he’s never met any that aren’t ghetto and full of attitude. Seems like a strange message to send out in a book of this kind.

But the good definitely outweighs the bad. Problems aside, this is a short, quick read that packs a huge punch. I feel like I'll be thinking about it for a long time.

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Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
October 30, 2018
NOTE: As a white woman, I am incapable of fully understanding the issues that plague black individuals today. I recognize my privilege and try to learn something new every single day, and I am so grateful for authors like Nic Stone who can teach me new ways of seeing society. That said, my opinion on this book is honestly so much less important than own-voice reviewers' words. If you or someone you know is an own-voice reviewer of this book and would like your review to be featured in my blog post, please message me here on Goodreads or DM me on twitter because I would love to share your words.

First and foremost, let me tell you that this is one of the most important stories that I have ever had the mixed pleasure and heartache of reading. Justyce's story is one of societal racism, police brutality, toxic masculinity, and privilege. His letters to Martin Luther King, Jr. beautifully depict the pain and difficulty that comes with being a black individual in the United States today.

It is so incredibly intersectional and finds a way to address so many talking points that many of my peers - of all ages - could benefit from seeing through this book's lens. No matter your political stance, I would highly encourage every single person to pick up a copy of Dear Martin and go into it with your eyes and mind as wide open as possible.

"How do I work against this, Martin? Getting real with you, I feel a little defeated. Knowing there are people who don't want me to succeed is depressing. Especially coming from two directions."

Something exceptionally interesting to me about Nic Stone's writing in this book is her decision to address not only racism, but also the mindset that some individuals in the black community have regarding themselves and other POC. There is a lot of explanation given for how, in a nutshell, once a group of people have been put down over and over for so long, in such painful ways, and have been shown that no amount of effort they can put forth will be recognized as equal, it can be easy to feel defeated and hopeless - sometimes to the point of giving up.

Justyce's reaction to his unlawful arrest, and the ways that his privileged, wealthy white classmates treat him, broke my heart. He becomes so hopeless at times. Despite being incredibly brilliant and hard-working, Jus questions his own worth at points, asking, "Am I ever going to get anywhere? Is this battle worth fighting?"

"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?"

What may have been the most painful aspect of reading Dear Martin for me, was watching the way his so-called "friends" treated him. The microaggressions escalated steadily to blatant cruelty, and so much of it looked so familiar to things I saw and heard people say firsthand, growing up in the Atlanta metro. I'm so ashamed to say this, but there were even comments that I remembered making similar assumptions to as a young teen, and seeing it on paper like that brutally reminded me of how many people I have hurt with my carelessness in years past.

"My dudes... they're like family to me. They've got my back as long as I have theirs."

One of many topics Nic Stone handled beautifully was the portrayal of gangs, and the reasoning for why so many teens get sucked into them: at the root of many gangs lies a family, something to hold on to and to protect yourself with. In a society that has ceaselessly attacked the individuals it deems "other", is it any surprise that individuals like Justyce's childhood friend would seek solace in gangs?

The entire gang discussion in Dear Martin also highlights some serious struggles with toxic masculinity and the way it can effect young people in particular, leading young men to believe that proving their worth means violence, aggression, etc. While it's not a topic that is focused on very clearly in this book, it's worth mentioning.

Among other less-discussed topics in the book, there's time taken to dive into sexism (like Justyce's frequent remarks to Manny that he is "such a girl", which is later challenged), misogynoir and internalized racism (as Justyce's best friend, Manny, admits that he struggles to find black women attractive, and goes on to categorize them stereotypically and unfairly), and discrimination and how it can impact both sides (Justyce has a crush on his best friend - a Jewish girl named SJ - but refuses to pursue it due to his mother's insistence that no black son of hers should have anything to do with a white girl).

There's also a heavy line of discussion about police brutality, which we get to see somewhat from both sides: Justyce wonders if one cop's racism is influenced by having seen his partner shot by a black teen months prior - blame is never 100% placed on either side, and nobody's actions are justified. As a result of police brutality, Justyce's best friend's father joins a protest group (seemingly similar to Black Lives Matter), and is forced to resign from his management position as a result of being seen with "those people". I know that BLM and police brutality is a hot topic of controversy here in the states lately, and I thought Nic Stone made her points flawlessly.

"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."

This quote in particular was what finally broke me in Dear Martin. I have grown so weary of individuals claiming that marginalized groups - particularly black individuals - don't protest "the right way". If they stand silent, it's wrong. If they kneel, it's wrong. If they wear t-shirts and hold signs, it's wrong. This is so incredibly relevant to the turmoil facing our nation today, and at a certain point, you have to wake up and realize: it isn't about the protests - it never was. It's about the skin color of the protesters.

I feel like there's so much more that I could say about Dear Martin. I'm sitting here with tears streaking down my cheeks, and all I want to do is say any combination of the right words to convince you to pick this book up, to lose yourself in this story the way I did. To go into it with open eyes and to learn something from Nic Stone's experiences. If there could ever be a contemporary title that I could convince you to get a copy of, let it be Dear Martin.

Content warnings: racism, police brutality, violence, death, misogyny/misogynoir.

All quotes are taken from an ARC. Thank you so much to PRH/CROWN for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and more on my blog!
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
February 2, 2018

CW: racism, police brutality

Dear Martin had me captivated the entire time, I seriously could not put it down. I finished it in under 3 hours so if you are looking for a short yet intense read, this is the one for you!

I feel I avoided Dear Martin for a few months because I assumed the entire novel was written in letters to Dr. King, which is not a format I prefer to read. I was pleasantly surprised to find the letters complimented the chronological storytelling, and was a great addition in my opinion. I feel Justyce’s story would be incomplete without a place to share his unfiltered thoughts with a figure he aims to emulate.

Dear Martin does not shy away from much-needed conversations about racism and racial profiling in America, but it also delves into conversations about toxic masculinity and gangs. I feel this novel successfully accomplishes approaching these tough issues by displaying a variety of perspectives. These discussions are raw, uncensored, and full of truth we cannot turn a blind eye to.

I also loved that while this book deals with serious topics, the character dynamics do often bring enough humor to the story to balance out the intensity. I thoroughly enjoyed Justyce’s narration – It was so satisfying to read from the perspective of an intelligent, self/socially aware teen.

All together, I loved Dear Martin. I think my only critique is attributed to the fact that I wish it was longer! I would have loved more scenes, more letters to Dr. King, more development from side characters. Otherwise, it was a really fantastic read I would definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
August 8, 2018
Every moment of this felt like a punch to the gut.

There’s honestly not much else to say about this book. Despite being incredibly short, I think Dear Martin speaks for itself about racism and hatred and prejudice. It’s hard to write a book that makes a reader feel, but reading this book just made me feel like I was being punched in the gut, over and over. This was just so emotionally real. While the characters may not get many specific traits, they all feel so much like real people. It takes a lot of talent to make characters feel so true in so few pages.

Where this book truly exceeds, though, is the thematics. I'd utterly second my friend Destiny's words as to the themes of internalized racism. What I specifically loved about this book, and something I'm not sure you'll get from any other book, is the emphasis on Justyce's feeling like a political debate rather than a person. Holy shit, this is the realest feeling as marginalized person. It's like your personhood is being taken away. You are nothing but the thing that cuts you off, not to your friends, to your enemies, to your teachers. You are there to be a political pawn. You are there to be a counterexample. None of your opinions are your own - they are your group's opinions, because god forbid we think of marginalized people as anything but a monolith. There is so much about this here, done in a way that's sensitive and kind. I think no one put it better than Adriana @PerpetualPages in their review - this book asks, and better yet, doesn't try to perfectly answer, whether the time for respectability politics is over.

I feel like people are going to ignore this because of The Hate U Give, an equally important and fantastic book: and can I just say: you shouldn't. Yes, they're both kind of about #blacklivesmatter, but they deal with different facets of racism and in completely different ways. The Hate U Give deals with cop violence and racial profiling, yes, but I'd argue that its focus lies on how to stand up in a society filled with systematic racism. Meanwhile, Dear Martin focuses on toxic masculinity and the socialization of black boys in our society, the way in which they are taught they are more criminal than everyone else in some indefinable way. Both have slightly different focuses when discussing racism, both are very different books, and both are totally worth reading.

It wasn't quite a five star book for me; the beginning felt a little rough, in particular. After a heartbreaking and near-perfect first couple chapters, the middle section is meditative and dialogue-full with a romance that feels somewhat bland. But in the end, it all works to the book's advantage. The second half of this book makes everything worth it. I truly felt so much towards the end. And in fact, the ending of this book is one of the best book endings I have ever read. It is so full of hope - hope for change, hope for continued life, hope for us to continue growing as people and as nations. A lot of the changes we can make in the future need to be guided along by people in positions of privilege. We need to be here. It's our responsibility to support fantastic books like this that speak to the importance of ending racism.

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Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews902 followers
August 6, 2019
The topics that are being addressed in this are important and sadly very very real but this was just so TERRIBLY written!!
And I don't want to feel forced to love a book just because of it's sensitive/important topic. I want to love a book because it's good.

PS: The synopsis basically spoils about 60% of the book?! Why would you do that??
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,615 reviews10.7k followers
September 27, 2022
Impactful. Immersive. Important.

There are many different ways in which we learn about the world. One of the most important ways is through personal experience. These experiences help to shape our views, opinions and really who we are as people.

As we all know, however, people experience the world differently for a variety of distinct reasons. Unfortunately, one way in which this is true is based upon the color of a person's skin.

I know that as a white person, given the innate privileges that comes with, there are certain issues I will never be able to understand based on personal experience; I have to look outside of myself and my day-to-day experience, if I want to acknowledge and understand certain important matters that affect so many.

That's one of the reasons why I think books such as Dear Martin are crucial. It's one of the many reasons why there has been such a push, and a well-received push fortunately, for more OWN-voices books.

They provide windows through the eyes of the characters, so the Reader can learn and gain knowledge from the life experiences of another.

Dear Martin is a wonderfully written novella about a boy struggling to understand race relations within his community and his country, the United States, at large.

I loved the format of this and although some of it seemed 'surface level', as I have noticed some Readers comment, I think overall that was a wise choice by the author.

In my opinion, to make this story approachable to the widest audience, it was important to keep it this way. Not everyone is comfortable picking up a 400 or 500-page book like many of us are.

I think the way Dear Martin was written helps to get it into the hands of the largest number of people possible and for a story as important as this, that is what matters.

I highly recommend picking this one up if you haven't already.

Nic Stone is a very talented storyteller and I look forward to reading more of their work.
Profile Image for Tomi Adeyemi.
Author 7 books18.8k followers
June 12, 2017
I kept trying to read a chapter at a time over the course of 2 days, but every time I sat down for one chapter I ended up reading five. By day three I just said "screw my responsibilities" and let myself curl up in bed with this beautiful and powerful book. It truly hurts to read because of all the raw issues it explores, but I loved every minute of it. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you angry. It makes you FEEL and it makes you think. It gives you everything a great book is supposed to give you and more. It's also so hard to put down!!
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews213 followers
February 2, 2023
Sometimes I stumble onto a story that renders me speechless for days, but then can be summed up in one emphatic word: THIS!

I've been sharing this gem with 'my' students for more than six years. It's a Banned Book that every single high-school student should have the opportunity to read. So far, I've joyfully donated more than 30 copies of DEAR MARTIN to classroom libraries and individual students. And I am not finished.

Nic Stone, you are my true hero!
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
March 15, 2021
This is just one of those books that makes me so, so glad that young adult lit exists, and that it takes the form that it does.

The fact that this story has and will end up in the hands of the exact people who will learn the most from it makes me so happy.

This is such a powerful and impactful story, and it's going to do untold good.

That's all.

Bottom line: Just...good.


i don't know why it took me so long to pick this up but it was wrong and i am sorry.

review to come / 4 stars
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
March 2, 2021
”Why try to do right if people will always look at me and assume wrong?”

I know that’s quite a provocative quote for the beginning of a review but I decided to pick it because I like how it immediately causes you to think about it! I mean why indeed? If you play by the rules but no one else does, is it even worth to stick to them? Can one person change the prejudices that have been ingrained into society for generations? If others hurt and push you to your limits, should you just take it and let a court deal with it? Is it wrong to want to fight back?

As you can see this book was truly thought-provoking and I’m still only skimming the surface of all the many questions “Dear Martin” illustrated. There’s a bunch of issues that are challenged throughout the entire book and even though it didn’t make me cry as much as “The Hate U Give” it still left its mark. Truth be told those two books might deal with the same issues but the way they were handled was different and while “The Hate U Give” mostly made me feel, “Dear Martin” caused me to think. I guess in that regard those two books were completely different but each of them is important in its own way. =)

”It’s like trying to climb a mountain, but I’ve got one fool trying to shove me down so I won’t be on his level, and another fool tugging at my leg, trying to pull me to the ground he refuses to leave.”

This quote is so powerful and I still think about it. It showed Justyce’s struggle so well because he is a good student, he is a decent guy, he’s headed for university and there’s a bright future ahead of him but despite all of that, he still has to fight for everything. And this twice as hard as a person who was born with a different skin colour. It’s just not fair and no matter what he does, he can’t win. His white friends say they are friends with him and Manny because they don’t care about skin colour, yet they make stupid jokes, call them homies and make use of their privileges whenever it suits them. And the people in Justyce’s neighbourhood? They resent and tease him for going to an elite school, for having white friends and for trying to make something out of his life.

”Me: It’s a conundrum, white people hold most positions of authority in this country. How do I deal with the fact that I DO need them to get ahead without feeling like I’m turning my back on my own people?”

He’s right smack in the middle of both parties and it’s no wonder that he had no idea how to deal with it. I think the idea to write letters to Martin was great because it was some sort of outlet to get rid of all his complicated feelings. And of course there were A LOT of them. I can’t even fathom how it is to live a life like that because as you all know I’m white and therefore already privileged. What I DO know is that a lot of the things that happened in here were wrong though. No matter if it were Manny’s and Justyce’s school friends, the way Manny’s parents were treated after their son died or how opposed Justyce’s mother was against him starting a relationship with a white girl.

”So what you’re saying is after a lifetime of getting picked apart because of my skin color, I should dismiss the girl I love because of hers?”

I know “The Hate U Give” addressed the same issue with Starr having a white boyfriend and it made me think if it’s always like that. I really would like to hear an own voices opinion here because I think it’s awful that people, no matter if they are white or black, have these kind of prejudices. I can only speak for myself here but I want to live in a world in which we’re all equal and in which the colour of our skin doesn’t matter. I try to instil those same values and beliefs in my own kid and I really hope that many other people are doing this too. We have to do better than our ancestors and we CAN do better than that!

”SJ: All the courts “proved” yesterday was that a white guy can kill an unarmed teenager and get away with it if the kid is black.”

So let’s finally address the big elephant in the room: The shooting and the way Manny died. I can’t believe this off-duty cop shot them just because they were listening to loud music. It’s a thought I can’t wrap my mind around. They did nothing to provoke such a reaction... I mean people in my neighbourhood always listen to too loud music but I either talk to them or I let it be. There’s no use in arguing with them anyway. But to pull out a gun and to just shoot them? WTH??!! I’m still outraged about this strong and totally uncalled-for reaction. I know the cop might have had PTSD because he watched his partner die but things like that can’t happen. They should not happen. To say he felt threatened by them and their loud music because he watched his partner die at the hands of a black boy... What would he have done if they would have been white? He would have never pulled out his gun, that���s what he would have done. The sheer injustice of that, just because Justyce and Manny were black ARKADFKLASFJASLDKFJSALS! I repeat IT’S NOT RIGHT!!!! #BlackLivesMatter

"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."

Quite honestly as someone from Europe I don’t get all the violence that is happening in America. Over here the only people that are allowed to carry guns are policemen and people that have a firearms certificate. (And the amount of people that actually have one is really small.) This however doesn’t mean that I’ve never witnessed police violence in America though. Back in 2015 I was on a road trip in America and I remember a situation in which I was scared shitless. I mean as a tourist you usually only see the good things but we had one day to spend at New York at our own leisure and when my hubby and I walked on one of the bigger streets of NY I saw 4 (!!!) police officers holding down a black man. He was yelling that they were hurting him and he cried out in pain and my first instinct was to run over and to ask them why they were hurting him so bad. Our tour guide always hammered into us never to get in the way of an American policeman though, so I didn’t dare to do anything. I mean they are the police after all, right? They had their reasons, right? So I looked at the people around me and they all continued to walk around the scene that played out on the street, they didn’t even pause... like this was such an ordinary and normal thing... It’s been 6 years and I still think about this incident. I have no idea what that man did wrong, if it was justified to arrest him. But what I DO know is that the brutality and violence was inappropriate and totally blown out of all proportions. I mean he was one skinny man, and they were 4 bulky police officers. No matter what he did, it wasn’t right to treat him like that. No one deserves to be treated like that.

Sorry for this excursion but as a pacifist this moment really shaped me and the way I think about police violence against black people. I guess you can already tell by me sharing this story. XD I felt helpless back then and I think the only thing we can do is to accept the advice Justyce was given:

”You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

So what kind of person are you gonna be? Will you try to make a difference? Will you ignore the injustice? Or will you open your eyes and fight for equality? Only you can make that decision and if you’re still unsure about your own opinion on that matter: Well, you can always start small by doing some research or by actually reading this book. ;-)


Okay, this was a really great book that made me think A LOT!
I really liked the approach of this and the writing style was definitely something unique.
The ending was really ... wow... because I didn't really expect it to end like that.

Full RTC soon! Stay tuned! ;-)


“Dear Martin” has been on my TBR for quite a while now and since I’ve seen “Dear Justyce” all over my feed I finally decided to read this. =)

Between all the fantasy and YA books I’m currently reading “Dear Martin” is certainly going to be on the more serious side and since I have all those other books as a counterweight I’m ready to tackle this book now.

I know this is going to be powerful so I’ll brace myself!

Did any of you read “Dear Martin” already?
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,070 followers
June 6, 2020
4.5 stars

I honestly have no idea why this isn’t getting more hype, because this book is absolutely beautiful, important, and poignant. It opens eyes and minds about issues that are happening right now, and it offers perspective from people who are the ones facing those issues. This is a book everyone should read.

First, I’d like to say that I am a person of color, but I am not Black. I’ve faced racism, bias, and other forms of prejudice and discrimination, but none as bad as what Black people face. So while I have had some bad experiences in that matter, it will never be on the same level as Black people have had.

I didn’t even reach the tenth page before I got incredibly frustrated and angry, and it just continued to build over the course of the story. The events that happen in this book are horrible to read about, because they are so unjust and not something you’d ever think someone would or could experience—but what makes it worse is that people do face these things in real life. And books like these are the only way to really get just a small idea of what those people experience.

What do I do when my very identity is being mocked by people who refuse to admit there’s a problem?

Not only does this book tackle police brutality, racism, and racial profiling, however, it also covers topics such as toxic masculinity, sexism, and the “making everything about race” idea! (I sound excited when I say that, but honestly I’m just excited that a book can tackle so many things, because that is exactly what we need.)

Justyce is a real and flawed character. His flaws make him beautiful, and they make him so much more relatable. He is kind, he is sweet, and he genuinely wants to change the way others view Black people and racial inequality. I also found it so so important that he was a MOC teen narrator, and specifically Black—male narrators are already scarce in YA, and MOC even scarcer.

I also love love love the character development that Jared, your typical “There Is No Racial Inequality” White Guy, went through. In the beginning of the book, he says:

What kind of teacher has the nerve to suggest there’s racial inequality to a classroom full of millenials?

and also:

I’m just so sick of people suggesting African Americans still have it so hard these days.

and also:

All I know is that no matter what college I end up at, when I see a minority, I’m gonna wonder if they’re qualified to be there.

Obviously, all of this made me so angry, because as a white person, he cannot understand what racial inequality truly is or what Black people have gone through, because he is white. But by the end of the book, Jared realizes his privilege and works to make up for his past mistakes (even if it’s sad that that happened only when ). And that is what white people should be doing, working to undo the ignorance that they have had, working to recognize what privilege they have for being white, working to use that privilege to help others.

Sarah Jane (also known as SJ) was an AMAZING character and I love her so. much. She is strong, smart, and will not hesitate to stand up for her opinions. She is a character realizes her white privilege from the very beginning, and sticks up for forms of inequality, and also Justyce. (I also love that she apologized for “taking over” and not letting Justyce stand up for himself—because while it’s amazing that white people will defend POC, they also need to let POC speak up for themselves first, if they want to.) I love her.

My ONLY complaint was that it was, um, way too short. The ending actually kind of felt a little “cheap” to me, because I don’t think it was very realistic (although I am still not very knowledgeable in these issues!!). The way it was left so open kind of irritated me—however, it also is one of the reasons this book is so touching?? It’s up to the readers’ interpretation of whether this case was really solved or not, and I love that. AND it’s amazing that the author can pack so much character development & messages in such a short book!

This book was so, so important. It’s as much as a must-read as The Hate U Give, and I hope that everyone will be able to pick it up one day! The characters are amazing, and the book raises so much awareness on topics and issues that are not being talked about as much as they should be today.

The world is full of people who will always see me as inferior.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
October 2, 2021
“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to 'fit'? People who make history rarely do.”

Nic Stone has been on my radar for a long time so I'm glad I finally managed to pick up her bestselling debut novel. I really enjoyed it as it was a super quick read that didn't waste a word. Every page, every chapter grabbed my attention. I thought the characters were well-painted with only a small number of strokes. I couldn't help but feel as if the story was slightly fractured, only showing a few outtakes of the life it documents and retelling the gaps with a sentence or two, therefore swallowing moments that I would've liked to see more of. The story felt a little incomplete and failed to play all my emotional strings. Another thing that bugged me was the switching from dialogue in quotation marks to direct speech introduced by a name + colon in a single conversation and sometimes paragraph.

An impactful novel that should be required reading.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Brandice.
912 reviews
January 17, 2022
I loved Dear Martin, a timely book that depressed, infuriated, and devastated me at various parts.

Dear Martin is about Justyce, a 17 year old high school senior at a prep school in Atlanta who, over the duration of the story, finds himself treated unfairly in certain situations as a young Black man. The book is unfortunately timely with the social injustices that continues to pervade the U.S.

Justyce is aiming for an Ivy League college, balancing school, friendships, including his best friend Manny who plays a central role in the story, peer pressure, and crushes, so to throw these incidents into the typical teenager mix is a lot — More than any 17 year old should have to deal with. To cope with what he’s facing, Justyce starts writing letters to Martin Luther King, Jr., wondering what Martin would do in the situations Justyce faces.

“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to ‘fit’? People who make history rarely do.”

This is a YA book and definitely read like one, particularly in Part One, mostly due to the language, however it was an interesting story, and moved at a good pace. The tension was building and I wasn’t sure what the turning point would be, although I knew it as soon as I read it.

“The time is always right to do what is right” is my personal favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.

While Dear Martin left me heartbroken over some things, I liked the ending and feel like the book is a great read for YAs and adults alike.
757 reviews2,349 followers
December 4, 2017
This book is so powerful and moving.

This book is literally one of the best I've read in ages and deserves equal amount of hype as The Hate U Give. I cannot stress how much people need to read this book!


buddy read with my most favoritest son (theo) ever!!!

I want a good read and I know for a fact this will be a fabulous read!!
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,399 followers
November 17, 2020
I really appreciate YA authors that write directly to their teenage audience. There’s been a bit of a blurring of the lines between Young Adult and Adult fiction over the years, and sometimes it feels like teenage readers, especially ones in their early teens, get left behind. Maybe it’s due to the reluctance by publishers to classify books as New Adult, but about half of YA book readers are adults. This is fine, but adult readers and reviewers need to understand that these works are not made specifically for them, and should be able to acknowledge that before picking one up.

Dear Martin is a book for high schoolers, whether they’re big readers or not, and meets them on their level. It’s not juvenile and it doesn’t talk down to them. It deals with serious issues and will probably be triggering or upsetting to many of them. But it also is easy to read and has characters who think and act like real, modern teenagers. It’s short, which, honestly, was my favorite characteristic for assigned readings in class. And like other more recent YA novels, like Speak and The Hate U Give, I think it would be an excellent addition to a school’s book list.

Justyce McAllister has a lot going for him. He’s successful academically, goes to a great school and has some really solid friends. He doesn’t cause trouble, even at times when he would have good reason to. But to some people he will always be seen as Black before anything else—as someone inherently threatening. The police officer who accosts him one night certainly does, and though Justyce survives the altercation, he’s forever changed.

Dear Martin is a story specific to Justyce, but is one that we should all be familiar with by this point. Especially after everything that’s happened in the United States in 2020, but also because it’s been happening for decades. You can see it stretching back centuries if you want to look that far. The characters go through a lot, but nothing that’s even approaching improbable. What makes Dear Martin so affecting is how familiar it all feels.

I would recommend this book to everybody who is willing. If you’re white especially, and this is not the type of book you’d normally reach for, I implore you to read something outside of your typical experience. It’s not just necessary for personal growth, but societal as well. There is no point of ‘wokeness’ that can be reached where we will no longer have to vigorously interrogate our own biases. Race or privilege doesn’t always have to be front-and-center in your reading, but there’s no such thing as a ‘color-blind’ society, so why expect our stories to be any different?
Profile Image for Romie.
1,094 reviews1,270 followers
November 5, 2017
Such a small book, and yet so impactful.

Do you ever just start a book and think ‘Oh you, you’re going to be a favourite’? Because that’s exactly what I felt when I opened this book and read the first chapter. By the second I was crying, and smiling, laughing, and in so much pain.

This book is mostly about Justyce, a seventeen-year-old black boy, trying to understand where he stands in his own life, what is opinion on racial inequalities is, what does it mean for him to be black in this white supremacist world. And it sucks. So much. Because he’s surrounded by these white ‘I don’t see colour’ dudes who think racial inequalities don’t exist anymore and can’t even realise they benefit of white privileges.

Justyce is a complex character, he goes through such an important journey throughout this book : going from this ‘let’s do anything to be integrated’ kid to this ‘I’m done being someone I’m not’ one. And it’s so heartbreaking to witness this journey, because Justyce has to face such a harsh reality, it hurts him every single of it.

The moment that really changes everything for him is when he’s handcuffed fore helping his drunk ex-girlfriend to sit in her car … and a cop assumes he’s carjacking. Because he’s black and wearing a hoodie. How fucked up is that? He’s automatically assumed threatening because of his skin colour, don’t tell me we’re all equals because that’s bullshit and you know it. Justyce knows it, every single people of colour me included know it, so why is it so hard for a huge number — if not the majority — of white people to understand there is an actual problem going on and it won’t get better until they start opening their eyes? I’m not sorry for being harsh in my words, because the really is harsher, and I’m not there to make racist people feel comfortable. None of us are.

This book has a lot of extremely interesting side characters, and I have to admit my two favourites were SJ and Doc. SJ is this white Jewish girl, she’s so fierce and head-strong, she’s aware of her privileges and uses them to make this fucked up world a better place. Doc is a biracial teacher, and he gives the best advices, you could just write them all on post-its and put them on your walls because trust me you need them. But there is also this one character I didn’t expect to end up liking : Jared. Asshole Jared. Mr-I’m-better-than-you-because-I’m-white Jared. It’s interesting to see how something awful that happens in this book affects him for the better. But people of colour shouldn’t have to suffer for white people to open their eyes and start acting like decent people.

“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”
Profile Image for Christy.
3,917 reviews33k followers
July 30, 2020
4 stars
“You can't change how other people think and act, but you're in full control of you.”

I listened to the audiobook of Dear Martin and it was fantastic. Justyce’s story was real, important, and powerful. This was a short listen (less than five hours) but it packed a punch. I loved the concept of writing to Martin and I loved seeing things from Justyce’s perspective. One of my favorite things about reading is being able to be in someones head who’s perspective is totally different than mine. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,208 reviews19.7k followers
August 3, 2018
#BookTubeAthon Day 5, Book 5.
Challenge: Let a coin toss decide your first read.

[4.5 ⭐️]
I began reading this around 4.30pm and finished it by 7:25pm.
I was completely absorbed into the story and it left me in such a haze after I finished it.
If you loved The Hate U Give, then you’ll love this. I actually preferred this story and the format is was told in, the writing, the characters, and how the subject matter of the Black Lives Matter movement was spoken about.

Just a stunning novel.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,108 reviews6,573 followers
July 25, 2020
“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to 'fit'? People who make history rarely do.”

representation: own voices Black characters, Jewish side character.

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


How do i even begin to talk about this? What an impactful book. The characters felt so real so everything just hit so hard... it was honestly devastating and incredibly anger-inducing to read. Just.... we need to do better, y'all. Stories like this shouldn't ring so much truth, but this shit happens every god damn day. It's just... heartbreaking.

"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."

trigger warnings: alcohol and drug use, police brutality, racism and racial discrimination, loss of a parent (in the past), mention of domestic abuse (in the past), murder of a best friend by a police officer.
Profile Image for Ava.
266 reviews311 followers
September 13, 2017
Holy fucking shit I loved this book so much.

DEAR MARTIN is a masterpiece. There's simply no other way to describe it. It's a work of art that will leave you breathless and sobbing and unable to stop thinking about it.

I'm amazed by how well-done everything is: the characters, the story, the writing, the cover, the plot twists...It fully deserves 5 stars, and I wish I could give it more.

When this book releases, there's no excuse for not reading it. You simply have to. If you like contemporary? Read it. If you don't like contemporary? Still read it. This is a book for EVERYONE, and it's a book that deserves every bit of the pre-publication praise it's gathering.

Reread 9/10/17, because I couldn't help it.
Profile Image for Melina Souza.
357 reviews1,878 followers
November 29, 2020
Sem dúvida uma das melhores leituras não só de 2020, mas da vida.

Emocionante da primeira até a última página.

Fiquei triste, angustiada, com raiva...é um livro que é impossível você não sentir durante a leitura. Impossível não se questionar, não sentir vergonha (se você for branco), não se inconformar.

Uma leitura que, se trabalhada com cuidado e sensibilidade na sala de aula, pode gerar muita discussão e mudança.

A minha experiência de leitura foi ainda mais incrível porque fiz em conjunto com um grupinho muito especial (apoiadores do catarse ♡) e ficamos por mais de 3 horas conversando e trocando experiências sobre os assuntos abordados no livro. Recomendo demais uma experiência assim.

Importante: não é um livro leve e tem muitos possíveis gatilhos.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books569 followers
February 14, 2018
A really moving, well-written and thought-provoking story, which delves into subjects such as race, violence, culture, identity and relationships. It is, at times, really difficult to read, because I felt confronted with a reality that I wish were different. For someone who has never been (at least to my knowledge) discriminated against because of the way I look, Dear Martin offered insight into the constant strain and struggle so many people face just in normal, day-to-day situations. The book was both disturbing and moving and though I thought Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give was very good, I think I liked this book, dealing with a similar situation, even better. It's the kind of story that should be read in school. Highly recommended!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Mysh.
111 reviews2 followers
February 21, 2018
Busy and flat.

Most of these events are totally plausible separately, but having everything happen at once, like an extremely packed after school special with no time to digest or reference historical context, made it seem like a racial parody. I've never cringed so hard while reading something, every page made my face sour.

And, god, save me from the "black boy likes lightskin/white girls but black women don't want him to because they're just angry" crap.

This is not a well-written book, but because white liberals suffer from white guilt- they'll rate it high to soothe themselves.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
October 1, 2018
“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

Dear Martin is one of several YA novels that seem to have emerged in response to the killing of young black people by police officers in the U. S. and in keeping with the Black Lives Matter movement. Since it is YA and is likely going to be adopted in schools, it can provide an opportunity for discussions that can link to current events. Others in this conversation include The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys, both of which I read and liked. As of this writing, I will also read Ibi Zoboi’s American Street soon. And Kwame Alexander’s Booked. I write this during the Laquan McDonald trial here in Chicago in fall 2018, so I timed my reading of this now with my YA class (which is focused mainly on romance and gothic horror, though there’s both romance and "horror" in Dear Martin, too).

What I look for in a YA novel about race is not much different than what I look for in any YA novel, or any novel: For it to be a novel, and not didactic. To explore issues, and not preach about them. This one opens pretty grippingly and not surprisingly with Justyce, a black teen, arrested as (white) cops see him wrestling his (white-appearing) drunk girlfriend Melo into the back seat of a car. Justyce (like real life Angie Thomas) lived in the city, but now boards at an exclusive prep school with mostly white kids, and is (he finds later) going to Yale; his debate partner, SJ, is white, Jewish, going to Columbia U. Jus’s best friend is Manny, a black guy who has some (white) friends who question affirmative action and so on. Manny is also (white) Jared's best friend.

When we begin the novel Jus is already beginning a project for himself, a series of letters to Dr. Martin Luther King to help him reflect on his (own) life. The arrest pushes Jus a little faster down a road of racial awareness, and he talks to his mama around then about MLK and about how it is important for us to live together. Jus listens to a class discussion on equality, and then participates in an ill-advised Halloween parade dressed us a “ghetto thug” as a white kid goes full-on KKK, hood and all. Bad decision.

The road to racial awareness gets rockier when Jus, playing music too loud in a a car, is profaned by the N-word, shot by a cop, and a (key person, I’m not sayin’) is also shot and killed. Jus considers joining the Black Jihad gang, as a result. This process of considering gang membership, and meeting with the leader of said gang, like the ill-advised Halloween dress-up, comes back to bite Jus. I don’t always believe everything that happens in this book, but I like a couple surprises that happen in it, and I like the way it moves to the end, with a complicated trial, continued connections with (anti-affirmative-action) Jared, SJ, and MLK.

“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to 'fit'? People who make history rarely do.”

I like:

*the fact that Jus adopts a project, to write letters to Martin Luther King, as a way of exploring how to live his life.
*that (white) Jewish SJ is the most articulate spokesperson for racial justice issues in two classroom discussions (though I can imagine some people might not like this). The fact that some white people can be allies in the fight is important in this book.
*I like the classroom discussions on equality in Doc’s class, though it is clear they are all prep school articulate; they don’t sound like “average” kids.
*Teacher Doc, a black guy and Jus’s mentor, who also went to an exclusive white prep school and experienced racism.
*Stone’s point that class and education do not protect you from prejudice. Coates in his memoir tells a real life story about a black friend who was rich and well educated but killed, nevertheless.
*I like it that activist mama is just not ready yet about his son dating white girls (she’s complicated, feels real).
*I like that last scene at the graveyard. Hey, people can change!

Spoiler issues I have trouble with in the book:

*Melo is dismissed as a “ho” by some in the book, and she never gets fully respected.
*I don’t quite buy that smart future Yalie, after taking with his mom about MLK, would actually get dressed up as a “thug” for Halloween with other stereotypically- dressed kids (one goes full on KKK and pays for that). I might possibly buy he considers joining a gang, but I don’t quite believe it.
*Not enough Jus introspection spent on the grieving of the kid who is killed (mentioned above).
*I wish Jus would have more fully engaged with the ideas of MLK; like: quote some, mention actual events? I know Jus is young and newly engaged in justice issues, but the actual MLK conversation seems flat and generalized and shallow. I guess the very fact that he dresses as a “thug” and considers joining a violent gang illustrates he doesn’t fully understand the idea of MLK (yet).
*The Yale roommate is stereotypically dressed white prep; hmm, can we consider he may not be racist? I suppose Jared’s example can be considered here.
*SJ and Jus binge watch National Geographic, which could be funny, but maybe we could learned of their interest in science.

If you were teaching this book, I’d read it with Ta Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and lots of stuff all too easy to find on the internet today.

I think this is a good book for discussion and my students like it. I don't think it is too preachy, and in the SJ-Jus connection, and with the ending, is complex about racial relations in places. I think it’s pretty engaging.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,129 reviews13.8k followers
November 8, 2020
Trigger warnings for loss of a loved one, racism, and police brutality.

Such a powerful read. I listened to the second half of this book while walking my dogs and did not expect to cry in the middle of our walk, but I did. This book really packs a punch in a pretty short amount of pages. I felt for everything Justyce went through and felt like it was such a realistic look at how people, specifically high school students, honestly think and feel when it comes to racism in our country. This book addresses social injustices, racism, police brutality, love, loss, and family relationships. I loved how honest, raw, and fast-paced this book was. I am really excited to pick up Dear Justyce next!
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,029 reviews934 followers
January 30, 2018
I read this book for the Goodreads' book club Diversity in All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

I really enjoyed this book! It was short, but covered so many important topics. The main character is Justyce McAllister. He is a African-American male, high school senior that is at the top of his class. The book starts off with a police officer putting him in handcuffs because he was helping his ex-girlfriend late at night (she looks white), because she is drunk. Throughout the whole book Justyce speaks out and notices all the injustice that is happening to him and around him. He writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers on what to do.
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
October 25, 2017


I’m not sure if I’ll ever have words for how amazing this book is. I read it while moving and wow. I simply had to sit down and continue reading no matter what I was doing. There were no if, buts, maybes about it. I had to read this book. It was a book that forced me to recognise both the privilege and prejudice in my own life. I’m white and my family really isn’t well off, but I have been given many opportunities throughout my life that needs to be recognised.

Living in Australia it is pretty much common knowledge that our country is racist. It may not be to the extreme of America due to our strict gun laws but there is a lot of hatred towards the indigenous and others who come to this country and aren’t white. Which is ridiculous.

Books like Dear Martin are eye-opening for someone like me who lives on the other side of the world. I obviously know the hate crimes that go on throughout America, they usually play on our news too. I also have studied Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in high school, with an amazing teacher, so I am not completely unaware. However, knowing about these events and hearing about the experiences are so very different.

I would place Dear Martin as a book that deserves as much praise as The Hate U Give. It is truly spectacular. I’m sure there will be some reviews that talk about how the world isn’t like this and police officers don’t do things that are written in this book but I don’t think people realise that police officers are just people and wow some are really fucked up. I mean, police officers can fuck up real bad. Some are terrible people. They kidnap, rape, be cannibals and are able to get away with it because they’re on the case. Why is it so hard to believe that a police officer could be a racist?

I think I really took advantage of the name of that section being called ramble so it’s probably time to move on. But, to summarise, this book is truly eye-opening. It doesn’t beat around the bush and it captures the true feelings of so many individuals.


I didn’t have much of an idea of what the plot would be when I started reading Dear Martin. I didn’t read the blurb. I just saw people talking about it on Twitter and it was the best way to jump into it for me. However, I did think the main characters name was Martin for a solid three chapters that really messed up my brain. I quickly rectified this, obviously.

However, the story of Dear Martin follows teenage boy Justyce as he sees the world in a new way after being arrested for trying to help his ex-girlfriend get home safely. His mind is suddenly opened to a world of possibilities as he realises the racism many of his fellow peers have. His story only gets harder as the book continues and I had to stop reading a few times to really absorb what was happening throughout the book.

I particularly liked the addition of the story where Justyce writes letters to Martin Luther King. He takes on a mentality of trying to do what Martin would do in his situation. How would he deal with the trials and tribulations of a teen facing racism in a modern day era? I found the letters Justyce wrote to Martin really added another heart-wrenching element to the book. As well as all the amazing characters, even the parents were awesome in this book.

At some stages I got a tad lost on what was happening since the writing style was a tad jerky in some ways. It would jump time frames quite quickly and since I was quite busy the day I read Dear Martin I had to go back and re-read sections.

Oh also, I should briefly mention the romance, I liked it. Something that’s shocking considering how many books I’ve read recently where the romance has been a drag for me. However, SJ and Justyce really worked well together for me.


#J U S T Y C E

Justyce was a character I instantly liked. That is pretty rare for me, especially with a male lead. However, his voice throughout the novel was completely identifiable and continuously interesting. It also didn’t read as a woman attempting to write a male as well.

I both enjoyed and hated seeing Justyce grow throughout this novel. I loved it because it 1. Showed the complexity of the authors writing and 2. Really drew you into the novel. I hated it because of why he had to grow. The poor guy couldn’t catch a break no matter what he did. Just when it seemed like life would be a bit easier for him it only amplified his struggles.

I was glad throughout this novel Justyce had a good network of both friends and family members that were ready to support him. In many novels, we don’t even get hints of that, but I really feel like it was important to Dear Martin to show unity.


Overall, put Dear Martin on your TBR’s and make sure you read it before the year is up. This book equally deserves the amount of success that The Hate U Give received.
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