Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (eARC Review)

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 288
Publication Date: September 29, 2020

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racial profiling, police brutality, incarceration, domestic abuse, mention of sleep paralysis, anxiety and depression

I have been a huge fan of Nic Stone’s novel Dear Martin and while I didn’t expect for there to be a sequel (or companion novel?), I was excited to get the chance to revisit these characters. However, this book isn’t as much about Justyce as it is about Quan, a boy with a very different life.

Right from the beginning, the author explains why she decided to write this book. As much as Dear Martin had quite the impact, the more readers Nic Stone met, the more she realized that a lot of people don’t get the same chances and opportunities as Justyce. There are people who feel trapped with a label that got stuck on them early on and like there is no escape from a possible future as a delinquent. People who are often at the wrong place at the wrong time and have no one in their corner. Things don’t always go right and one can feel powerless in the circumstances that you find yourself in. And they, too, deserve for their stories to be told and will hopefully see themselves in Quan’s experience.

Reminiscent of the format in the first book, we still have a bit of a mixed media style going on (letters, prose, etc.) and I found that specific writing style very engaging. It keeps the story flowing at a nice pace, without every getting confusing when it comes to timelines and so on.

Often, I am drawn to stories where characters need to find their family, their people, because for whatever reason their home life isn’t it. There might be a lack of support or an abusive environment the character will try to escape, but I rarely considered that finding a family – because you so desperately want someone to look out for you – can also end in a bad way. Quan makes some stupid choices, but once you hear how he went from one bad situation to another and at some point you are just done with the cards life deals you, you can’t help but feel for him and root for him. I was so happy to see that he had people in his corner, that truly only had his best interest at heart, even when he didn’t think he deserved them going to bat for him.

I appreciated Nic Stone’s letter to the reader and author’s note so much. She really put a lot into this book and I like that the she acknowledged how much of it is fiction and how Quan’s case would have probably ended differently in real life. But a lot of the story is about how we need to belief in people and let them know that we do, how it creates hope and a mindset that there can be a difference – that’s why I am glad the book ended the way it did! I think it will help create more open minds and hearts as well, as we all can believe in and support the people around us!

Dear Justyce is just as raw and real as its predecessor and can easily stand on its own. It shows how different experiences can be, but how far a little support can go. I hope that it will encourage people to reach out to those who struggle and prevent things from escalating the way they did for Quan.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I think I liked this better than Dear Martin (not that they are really in competition though).

Are you planning on reading Dear Justyce? How did you feel when you heard there was a sequel to Dear Martin? Let’s chat!

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (Book Review)

Publisher: Crown Books
Page Count: 220

I’ve wanted to pick up Dear Martin for the longest time, but I am just glad I finally got around to actually reading it. Not going to lie, I always find it hard to review books like this one. The topics of racial profiling and police brutality are so very important and especially these days, but they also aren’t easy to digest. While I always have that urge to say that it’s a bit different in my country, because the police isn’t as trigger happy as let’s say the US, it would be a blatant lie to say we aren’t struggling with racism as well. Also, my temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the continued struggle of people of colour, so I really just want to recognise how important of a read this is!

Dear Martin is reminiscent of books like All American Boys and The Hate U Give, but also very much its own story with its own style (definitely loved the mixed format of regular text, letters and news broadcasts). Where the other books took me days and days to read, I couldn’t put down Dear Martin and I was done within 2-3 hours. I thought about whether I would have wanted more, but with a little time to ponder over it, I think it really was the perfect length. While I would have appreciated a little more character development from various people here and there and a bit more of a cohesive timeline, I overall can’t say anything really bothered me in this book. In fact, I absolutely loved reading it!

“Itโ€™s like Iโ€™m trying to climb a mountain, but Iโ€™ve got one fool trying to shove me down so I wonโ€™t be on his level, and another fool tugging at my leg, trying to pull me to the ground he refuses to leave.”

From the get go, Justyce is a good guy. You see him making all (or at least mostly) the right choices and you are rooting for him, while you also see life and even more so people trying to tear him down every step of the way. My heart really hurt for him, because why be good? Why be the reasonable one? Why keep trying and making those right choices when the reward will never come? No one can tell me they wouldn’t feel defeated after a while, if they knew there were others out there who didn’t want them to succeed. It’s a struggle and one some people will never understand but I hope that this book will get them a little closer to it. Black people or people of colour in general should not have to be excellent at everything they do to be valued members of our communities. It’s a ridiculous notion and something a lot of white people have to work hard to dismantle in their minds.
If I had any say in this, I would make the book part of so many schools reading lists, because I am sure it will not only give people a way of seeing themselves in literature, but it also opens up a discussion about so many important and very current issues.

Obviously, this book has my recommendation written all over it! It’s gripping and real. It’s a punch in the gut and an eye opener. In short, it’s a real must-read.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Definitely wouldn’t mind if this book was part of a mandatory reading list in some schools!

Did you read Dear Martin? Do you intend to? Let’s talk!