When I first heard about this book in a FB group, I didn’t know what to think about it. I remember a number of women posting in a thread about how good the book is and how they enjoyed reading it. Many others were posting about how they had planned to read it soon.
Since I had already chosen a book for February, I made a mental note to come back to the thread later. Two weeks later, another woman posted about it so I began to research it b/c I thought it would be a good way to honor Black History Month.
After reading the synopsis, I changed the original book to this one and began reading.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
This book is about Justyce, a teenager who has a lot going for himself. He’s got good grades, attends a prep school, excellent SAT scores, plans to attend an Ivy League school, and loving parents. He’s even got the most popular girl in school as his on again, off again girlfriend.
Many would ask, what’s the problem? Well, Justyce was out one night attempting to help his girlfriend get home safely after a night of drinking. She wasn’t in any shape to drive herself home. Out of nowhere, some racist white cops appeared and immediately thought he was trying to take advantage of her and arrested him without so much as a second thought.
Clearly… he is confused and dumbfounded b/c he’s definitely not the guy they think he is, however, his journey begins with him trying to come to grips with what happened to him, how to understand that his accomplishments mean nothing b/c others see him as just another black boy, and how he will cope with it all.
To cope, Justyce begins writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who he believes would know how to handle the injustices of today, especially since not much has changed since he was alive.
Comparison to Real Life:
This book starts out with racial profiling, false arrest, no probable cause… I mean, the list goes on and that’s just the first chapter. The cop was definitely rude, racist, and looking for someone to humiliate. Now, how many people of color can relate to this? Far too many!
The law enforcement in this country has done some pretty dehumanizing, grueling, racist, demeaning, and was shown to be very poor examples of “protect and serve.” In African-American, Hispanic, and other minority communities, the police are really the last people we want to call for help b/c we never know what’s going to happen when we do.
People have been gunned down in their own homes, front yards, cars, streets, etc. without any regard for them as human beings or for their children. Thus, the whole reason for the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. The fact that “art imitates life” in such a real way is why I even chose to read this book.
The mere fact that people of color have to have such painful yet informative conversations with their young children about how to maneuver if they have a run-in with the police, so that they make it home safely and unharmed, is why this book is very relevant.
I have to be completely honest with you all. I could not finish this book. I stopped at Chapter 10 b/c while it started with a bang, that’s where it fizzled out for me.
I know that this book deals with real-life situations and real-life attitudes from a certain group of people, which is what drew me to the book. Well, that and the fact that a young teenage boy would think to write to Dr. MLK to cope with racial injustices was a pretty cool concept! But, it still was a miss for me. 😦
I don’t know if it was b/c of the target audience was not in my age group or the style of writing or an inability to connect fully with the characters. I have no idea what caused me to disconnect so fast! However, I had to be honest and acknowledge that it happened.
I don’t want the way I feel about this book to impact the way others feel about it. I know that when I read, The Hate U Give (review here), which is for the same target audience, I didn’t feel this way.
Finally, I would recommend that you still read it if the interest is there b/c this is only my experience.
#endpolicebrutality #holdpoliceaccountabletoo #IfIdieinpolicecustody #SandraBland #MikeBrown #JohnCrawford #PhilandoCastile #TamirRice #EricGarner #AltonSterling #FreddieGray #TerranceCrutcher