Popsugar Reading Challenge 2021 Book 48

Prompt: A book about a social justice issue

Dear Martin by Nic Stone is another book that has been on my TBR since 2020 and my conscious efforts to buy, and read, books by a more diverse range of writers. This featured on a lot of Black Lives Matter reading lists and is one that I will be adding g straight to my classroom library when I go back k to school in the New Year.

What it’s about?

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.

What I think:

Justice McAllister is bright and enquring. He’s a debate team winner and set to go to Yale. He’s also one of the few black boys at a prestigious private school.

One evening, while helping a female friend, and stopping her from driving while drunk, Justyce is arrested. The police seen a young black man attempting to steal a car from a white woman.

This incident brings issues of race, racial profiling and prejudice in America to the forefront of Justyce’s life. The microaggressions and prejudice of his friends at school becomes more apparent. He starts to call people.out on he had overlooked to fit in with his social circle. And he starts to work through his feelings in a journal by writing letters to Martin Luther King.

The complexities of issues surrounding ding race in American society are wonderfully captured in just 200 pages.

Stone introduces readers to the ideas about racial profiling, moral panics within society, Martin Luther King’s teachings, gang identity and policing.

This is an enthralling and emotional read. As with real life, there is no happy ending, and Stone does not sugar coat some of the horrors that Justyce send his friends go through and the scars that it leaves.

As a white woman living in the UK, this is not something I will ever experience. But as a teacher I think this is an important and highly accessible read that I will share with both students and colleagues.

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