I’m surprised by the good reviews for this book. It was full of stereotypes and it was not well written. Every African-American male in this book is either in a gang, related to someone in a gang, or seriously considering joining a gang. What sort of horrible stereotype is that? The white characters are also over the top stereotypes. I did not need this book to tell me that people who dress up as Klan members, use racial slurs, or have posters for minstrel shows decorating their houses are racist. I knew that already, and I imagine most people reading this book did too. The author had a real opportunity to show how dangerous and pervasive subtle racism can be, but instead the message was that overtly racist people are racist. That is a painfully simplistic way of looking at racism, and there is nothing revelatory about that. The potential of Justyce’s letters to Martin Luther King Jr. is squandered too. He says he’s going to be like MLK, but then 20 pages later he goes to a Halloween party dressed as a “thug” with a classmate dressed like a Klan member. He clearly wasn’t trying very hard to be like MLK or to understand his legacy.
Dear Martin may be a quick read, but it is also a very raw and powerful read. This book deals with the difficult issue of American race relations in a new and unique way. The main character has to deal with numerous issues and looks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. Justyce decides that he is going to start a journal writing to King so that he can work his feelings out. This is a book that I finished in one day and would recommend to both teens and adults.
If you read and appreciated The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, pick this one up! I read this in one sitting because I simply could not put it down. A short, but powerful and important story addressing racism, police brutality, toxic masculinity, and much more. It definitely taught me a lot and made me think more about our society's issues.
This was a very well written story. I was born and raised in Atlanta, so I could relate to a lot of the characters. Each character got to the heart of the rising issue of police brutality in America. But what I enjoyed about the book was the honest viewpoint of Justyce and how his closest friend was oblivious to the struggles that African Americans face in society. It was a great read.
I very much appreciated the message of this book, however it wasn't executed well. I have read other books (ALL AMERICAN BOYS, THE HATE U GIVE) with similar subject matter that just did it better.
Yes, I read this book in a day but that was because it was only 210 pages. I struggle with trusting a YA book that's only 210 pages, cause that's short! Like THE GREAT GATSBY short and surprise, I didn't like THE GREAT GATSBY. I felt like there needed to be more. I read in the acknowledgements that Nic Stone's editor helped her cut the book in half and I wish I could have read the other half.
Additionally, the format was distracting and weird. The book began with a third person narrative, which, was odd. Not the narrative but the narrator. It was clearly a female narrator speaking about a male protagonist and it was jarring and not succinct. Then it would switch to the letters Jus was writing to MLK...great, cool, I can deal with those two structures. But THEN for no reason, it would go into script format. What?! Like, why? The worst was when it would go from narrative to script within the chapter but then there was dialog in the letters and those were neither...It had no point or purpose. The constant format switches were distracting from the actual book. I appreciate those stylized choices when they have a purpose or a meaning to the story, but this just felt lazy and was distracting.
Finally, the writing itself was poor and boring at many points. It was bland and non-descriptive. There were points I wanted to explore, but were, instead, glazed over. Other points felt very preachy. The characters, especially in the debate scenes, appeared to be merely mouth pieces and not actual people. That was frustrating. A lot of the characters were 2D for me, especially Sarah-Jean and Doc. The only characters that had actual development were Jus and Jared, which was great. Their development was well portrayed but it wasn't enough for me. That was disappointing.
Oh! And the book didn't pass the Bechtel test which was highly annoying. Sarah-Jean felt like her own type of manic-pixie girl which pissed me off. Like, does that girl have a flaw? No? Okay, cool. And the other girl, Melo, was represented as a "messed-up hoe" so...yay women.
I will not deny that the message in this book is powerful and should be expressed and written about. This book has a very LOOKING FOR ALASKA feel in that there is a before and an after structure to it. I'll admit, when the big shock happened, I had to close the book and try not to cry for several minutes. I was stunned. It hit me hard. I appreciate that I got a window into a world that I--as a cis gender, straight, white woman--will never experience. It was not the best portrayal of this message. When compared to some of the other books about this same topic, it falls short. I would recommend other books before this one and yeah, that makes me sad. But it mainly has to do with the formatting and the writing itself. It has nothing to do with the message or the representation of racial issues in our world today. I respect and understand the need for stories like this, and I am happy that they are being published and wide-read. We need more of them. This one, though, it wasn't my favorite. I thought it could have been executed better.
OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over
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