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Dear Martin


First edition.
New York : Crown, [2017]
Physical Description:
210 pages ; 22 cm
"Justyce McAllister is top of his class at Braselton Prep, captain of the debate team, and set for an Ivy League school next year- but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He's eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident rattles him. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can't seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his new classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce's gorgeous -and white- debate partner he wishes he didn't have a thing for. Justyce has studied the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do they hold up now? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly, Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack."--Jacket.

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.
Reading Level:
Young Adult.

HL720L Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts! 5.4.

Accelerated Reader UG 4.8 6.0.

Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.8 6 192070.
Electronic Access:


Call Number
TEEN Stone, N.

On Order



"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

Author Notes

Nic Stone is a native of Atlanta and a Spelman College graduate. After working extensively in teen mentoring and living in Israel for a few years, she returned to the United States to write full-time. Dear Martin, her first novel, is loosely based on a series of true events involving the shooting deaths of unarmed African American teenagers. Shaken by the various responses to these incidents--and to the pro-justice movement that sprang up as a result--Stone began the project in an attempt to examine current affairs through the lens of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s teachings.

You can find her fangirling over her husband and sons on Twitter and Instagram at @getnicced or on her website nicstone.info.

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Justyce McAllister seemed to have it all-Ivy League aspirations, near the top of his class academically at a top-notch boarding school, captain of the debate team-until he is arrested while helping a friend. Feeling that he was racially profiled, he begins a journal of letters to Dr. Martin Luther King and asks himself, "What would Martin do?" when situations arise. And situations do arise, when white classmates make racist comments and dress in KKK robes for Halloween. In class, difficult subjects are discussed, such as the reality of racial equality and the effectiveness of affirmative action. Meanwhile, Jus reluctantly finds himself attracted to his white debate partner, knowing that his mother will disapprove. When tragedy strikes, Jus is forced to take a long look at himself and the life he is leading. Jus's first-person letters to King are interwoven with his third-person experiences. Dion Graham narrates, turning in a performance that is believable and convincing. Often he is soft-spoken, reflecting Jus's quiet nature, but as Jus's anger builds, Graham's narration reveals that as well. VERDICT With appeal to both reluctant readers and avid listeners, this thought-provoking audiobook deserves a place in any audio collection alongside The Hate U Give.-Julie Paladino, formerly at East Chapel Hill High School, NC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Actor Graham delivers a resonant performance of Stone's debut YA novel, which explores the experiences of a black student in a predominantly white high school. Like other teens, Justyce is trying to understand who he is in an age of social media and social inequality. As one of a few African-Americans in an elite high school, he is already familiar with issues of race that permeate education, but an unprovoked run-in with the cops brings home just how different Justyce's experiences are from those of his friends. Stone skillfully weaves recent events and statistics of the violence inflicted upon black men and boys by the police in the novel, which Graham underscores with subtle hints of emotion, emphasizing how teenage people of color must navigate a fundamentally different set of rules than white teenagers. But the highlight of the audiobook is the in the way Graham captures Justyce's frustration and pain in a series of letters that he wrote to his historical role model, Martin Luther King Jr. Together, Stone and Graham deliver an intimate and raw audiobook that will linger in listeners' minds. Ages 14-up. A Crown hardcover. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

I know your kind: punks like you wander the streets of nice neighborhoods searching for prey. Just couldnt resist the pretty white girl whod locked her keys in her car, could ya? So seventeen-year-old Justyce McAllister, who is black, hears after being shoved to the ground by a police officer (CASTILLO [the officers nameplate] reads, though the guy looks like a regular white dude). Thing is, the girl is mixed-race and is Justyces sometime-girlfriend (and drunk), and he was helping her get home. The opening scene is one of several that illustrate Justyces feeling that no matter what I do, the only thing white people will ever see me as is a nig--an n-word. Ranked fourth in his class at exclusive Braselton Preparatory Academy, hes been accepted to Yale, but his classmates assume its only because of affirmative action. In his own neighborhood, people criticize him for being a race-traitor whos gotta stay connected to the white man for the ride to the top. To sort his life out, Justyce begins writing Dear Martin letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Alternating with the main narrative, the letters are an effective device. What would Dr. King think about recent events surrounding Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the many others who have died and become headlines, the real-life people who inspired this novel? Stone veers away from easy resolutions while allowing hope to reside in unexpected places. dean Schneider (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

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) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*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.--Boyd, K.C. Copyright 2017 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

We've heard all the sayings: Family comes first. Family is forever. You can't choose your family! But the reality isn't always so simple. Benway's unforgettable novel explores the paradoxes and entanglements of unconventional families through the story of three biological half-siblings who don't meet until their teens. When 16-year-old Grace - A.P. chem student, cross-country runner and allaround good girl - gets pregnant and gives up her infant for adoption, it leaves her both emotionally shattered and motivated to find her own biological family, whom she knows nothing about. Enter Maya and Joachim, who have been growing up in neighboring towns but in very different circumstances. Fifteen-year-old Maya was also adopted as a baby, but has always felt the odd one out in her wealthy family. Lately, her mom's drinking is out of control and her parents are splitting up. Seventeen-year-old Joaquin, meanwhile, never even got adopted; still in foster care, he has been bumped around the system "like a set of keys someone had misplaced." As the three gradually bond over shared quirks and feelings of abandonment, Grace convinces the other two that they need to find their birth mother. It's a melodrama, to be sure, but with as much brain as heart. Benway ("Emmy & Oliver") writes with remarkable control and has the rare talent of almost vanishing as an author as she inhabits each character's perspective. Grace, Maya and Joaquin leap off the page as living, breathing teenagers, individual down to their fingerprints. The novel is also a brilliant exercise in empathy: As the siblings share their secret stories, we see them develop outrage, love, tenderness and sympathy for each other. As readers, we can't help doing the same. DEAR MARTIN By Nie Stone 210 pp. Crown Books for Young Readers. $17.99. (Ages 14 and up) As the success of Angie Thomas's "The Hate U Give" makes clear, Y.A. readers have a hunger for stories dramatizing racial profiling and the quest for social justice. Nie Stone's powerful debut about a striving black teenager trying his hardest to play by society's rules introduces Justyce McAllister, a scholarship student at an elite private school in Atlanta. Ranked fourth in his senior class, he's captain of the debate team and a contender for Yale. But when he's roughed up by the police who assume he was trying to steal his ex-girlfriend's Mercedes he realizes that he'll never stop being judged by his skin color. Tensions rise when one classmate accuses him of unfairly benefiting from affirmative action and another dresses as a Klansman for Halloween. (It's a "massive political statement about racial equality and broken barriers," explains the privileged bro.) All hell breaks loose when Justyce and his best friend get into a deadly altercation with an off-duty police officer. Stone packs an impressive spectrum of characters and viewpoints into 210 fastpaced pages: from Manny, the son of wealthy black professionals who tells Justyce he's being overly "sensitive" and confesses that he's "scared of black girls," to SJ, Justyce's civil rights-crusading Jewish debate partner (and guilty crush). While not all the characters are well developed, the smart, soul-searching Justyce is a hero readers will enjoy rooting for. "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?" he writes. (The novel's title come from his journal entries, which are written in the form of letters to Martin Luther King Jr.) "Really hard to swallow that I was wrong." I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER By Erika L. Sánchez 344 pp. Knopf. $17.99. (Ages 14 and up) Don't be fooled by the dreary title. This gripping debut about a Mexican-American misfit is alive and crackling - a gritty tale wrapped in a page-turner. The story begins when Olga, the seemingly "perfect" older sister of 15-year-old Chicagoan Julia Reyes, is killed in a bus accident. Olga was quiet, modest and infuriatingly devoted to their traditionbound parents - the opposite of Julia, an aspiring writer and rebellious smartmouth whose worst fear is that she'll "end up working in a factory, marry some loser, and have his ugly children." After Julia finds evidence that "Saint Olga" may have had a less-than-holy double life, she becomes obsessed with uncovering her dead sister's secrets. Part detective story, part coming-ofage tale, Sanchez's novel doesn't shy from heavy subject matter. Julia lives in a world where teenagers are no strangers to poverty, sexual assault,, domestic violence and fear of deportation. And Julia's relationship with her mother, who calls her a "huevona" and a "malcriada" (bonus: readers get a crash course in Spanish insults) is a sticky stew of anger, love, guilt and resentment. The story spirals into dark territory when Julia begins to suffer from clinical depression. But she's so blunt, funny and brave that she never becomes an object of our pity. And her moments of joy - as during a visit to her parents' hometown in Mexico, when she sits under the stars while her aunt braids her hair, "her fingers cool against the back of my neck" - are transcendent. LITTLE & LION By Brandy Colbert 327 pp. Little, Brown. $17.99. (Ages 14 and up) Set in the privileged climes of boho Los Angeles, Colbert's novel depicts the type of America that keeps hard-core traditionalists up at night. The central family consists of a black mom (a screenwriter), a white dad (an artisanal woodworker), and their two kids from previous relationships : 15-year-old Suzette and 16-year-old Lionel. Suzette (aka Little) is black and just figuring out she's bisexual. Lionel is white, bipolar and a fan of The New Yorker. And oh yeah, the parents aren't married and the whole family is Jewish. Arriving home for the summer after her first year at boarding school, Suzette is desperate to regain her old closeness with Lion, who's been keeping her at arm's length since his diagnosis. She's also racked with guilt about something that happened back at school between her and Iris, the first girl she's ever slept with. Suzette doesn't even know if she's 100 percent gay; she finds herself equally attracted to a guy (Emil, a half-black, half-Korean childhood pal) and a new girl (Rafaela, a sexy-tough Texan). Adding to the hot mess, Lionel falls for the same girl as his sister. Colbert writes about physical attraction with a real sizzle and she has concocted her bizarre love rectangle so ingeniously, readers will be dying to know - on the most basic level - who will end up with whom. And though its prose can be a bit stilted (Suzette says things like, "We hustle to our respective sides of the car") the book feels urgent and true. NOTHING By Annie Barrows 212 pp. Greenwillow Books. $17.99. (Ages 14 and up) Fans of the beloved middle grade series "Ivy + Bean" may feel a flush of familiarity upon meeting the 15-year-old bestfriend duo at the center of Barrow's first Y.A. novel. Charlotte is light-brownhaired and introspective, with literary aspirations; Frankie is a dark-haired, impulsive go-getter. Think: Ivy and Bean, now with angst and four-letter words. The novel's name comes from Charlotte's assertion that "nothing" happens in their safe, dull lives. And so she decides to write a book called "Nothing," tracing the course of her and Frankie's year: "It'll be, like, a searing document of today's youth and how incredibly boring our lives are!" In chapters that bounce between thirdperson perspective and Charlotte's confessional pages, the best friends gab, text, do homework, get high, buy burritos and mascara, humor their parents and obsess over their love lives (or lack thereof). Frankie considers applying to private school and learns to drive. Charlotte develops an intense textual relationship with a boy she's never met named Sid (she doesn't know what he looks like because Sid has a "no-picture rule"). But just because the stakes are low doesn't mean the book lacks depth. Barrows captures the highs and lows of her characters' emotional lives with remarkable feeling, revealing how even the most joined-at-the-hip BFFs inevitably have secrets and resentments. Best of all is Charlotte's voice, a hyperactive streamof-consciousness gush . Spending time with these two is a lovely, low-key pleasure. CATHERINE HONG, a contributing editor at Elle Decor, blogs about children's books at mrslittle.com.