OMG my first review of an ARC guys! I feel like this is a milestone of some sort. Also, this is unrelated, but the only reason I was blessed to read this book was because of Amanda (@BookishInvasion on Twitter and @ABookishInvasion on Instagram) sending me her ARC as an early birthday present.
Before I get into the review, I want to share my funny story as to how I met the author, Nic Stone (@getnicced). I think we mutually followed each other on Twitter, but I had no idea who she was. While I was in line for the Adam Silvera/Becky Albertalli signing in January (on his History is All You Left Me tour), my friend and I were standing next to the most gorgeous person I had ever seen. So much so that my friend and I (embarrassingly) gushed over our disbelief that she was a mother. Here, we were still convinced she wasn’t far out of high school.
That night, she tweeted about the experience and I (being me) was like AYE THAT WAS ME THO and the rest is history. Every time I see my fave, we take our celebratory selfie (albeit kind of difficult since I’m short as hell and she’s tall like a goddess).
And I also later jokingly tweeted that someone should buy me her book, Dear Martin, since its launch date is pretty close to my birthday. Let me tell y’all, I was so shook when she DMed me and asked for my address. She sent me the confirmation and everything. So I have an official copy coming in on October 17 (YAY). Still gonna buy like 289094 copies though. Y’all should too.
Since this anecdote has gone on long enough, time for my review.
Rating: 5++++/ 5 stars
This book is short, sweet, and to the point. It calls into question our attitudes surrounding the racial inequalities we still have to deal with in the twenty-first century. Justyce’s story shows that you can do everything right, nothing wrong, and the world will still try to keep you down. But he also shows that we can’t let them win.
I loved all of the characters, especially Sarah-Jane Friedman (I swear there’s someone/something in publishing with that name…) she called out things she knew weren’t fair regarding race and gender issues, while still recognizing her privilege at the same time.
My honest-to-god favorite part of the book is Justyce’s first letter to Dr. King. I can’t even describe what it did to me when I read it. Seriously, just read it.
Another thing I love is when books are based in places I actually know (ATL baby), and I felt a special kind of connection there. (I got two friends at Spelman too ayeee)
I’m going to tell y’all a little bit about me so that you kinda get where I’m coming from when I say things. I am not black, and I have no idea what it is like to be black – let’s make that clear. As a Vietnamese-Laotian female, I have no idea what it’s like to have to be cautious or be scared of anybody – relatively speaking. But where I live, and where I’ve grown up is a primarily black area; they are my friends, my classmates, my family. I go to a STEM magnet school where about 70% of us are POC (mostly black). After all of the tragedy in recent years, and after reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (another amazing book), I began to really fear and feel for all of my fellow schoolmates. It began to feel so real to me. I remember looking around the class and thinking, None of them deserve to die. I almost cried reading these books.
I remember one time, I was meeting some friends at the movies, and one of them got there early. He’d recently had surgery for a shoulder problem, and so his arm was in a sling. But standing at over six-and-a-half feet tall, I knew he would look threatening to somebody. I. Feared. For. Him. I texted him frantically to stay where he was until I could get there.
I say all this to say that not only is Dear Martin well-written, relevant, and staggering, it is required reading. By all means, use it to fuel your discussions, empower yourself as well as others, and maybe, just maybe try for change. This is my favorite book of 2017, without question. It was everything I wanted and expected and more. I will recommend this til the end of time.
(Also, Be Like Martin? More like #BLM)
Buy it here: