Dear Martin Book Review


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Dear Martin Book Review

Published in 2017, Dear Martin is an adult novel authored by Nic Stone as a reaction to the killing of Jordan Davis in Florida. Davis was a 17-year-old student who was murdered at a petroleum station by a 45-year-old white man called Michael Dunn over an argument about loud music. Dear martin follows an Atlanta-based high school student named Justyce McAllister. McAllister is a black boy attending a predominantly white school on a scholarship. An incident occurs where Justyce gets arrested and is thrown to the ground as he is handcuffed by a white police officer. Following the incident, Justyce tried to make sense of life as a black young man in the-then political climate. McAllister starts asking himself what Dr. Luther King would do if we had been alive, prompting him to write letters to King’s spirit.

In Dear Martin, Stone gets brutally honest and expertly talks about and portrays the extent of racism in society. Although this is the first novel that Stone has written, I found her skill extremely intriguing, competent, and well-articulated. Honestly speaking, Stone impressed me through the way she simultaneously brings out the themes of ethnic profiling and racism while at the same time developing raw and believable characters. She discusses a blend of unsparing incidents of racism, classroom conversations, and well-crafted dialogue. In so doing, she provides a clear message and accurately portrays the typical life of a black teenager. It is easy to relate to the book because I have already seen this story unfold many times in contemporary society. The storyline reminds me of the Black Lives Matter movement, that is known for its activism against racism and police brutality across the world.

At the beginning of the story, McAllister has things going on well for himself. He gets a scholarship to attend an elitist group. He is a member of a high ranking member in the debate club, and because of this, he gets to attend Yale University. After the incident where McAllister is harassed by a police officer, he starts to question racial issues that exist in society. Because of this, he starts a project titled “Dear Martin,” a series of letters to Dr. King Jr. As he goes through the entire ordeal, he keeps on asking himself only one question, which is, what would King do?

Since the start of the novel, McAllister comes off as an empathetic protagonist. There was an explanation for every action he made particularly during times that he would face a dilemma over the making the right choice. He often considered how these actions would affect him and the people surrounding him. In writing letters to King, McAllister did not refrain from speaking questions and was articulate in his thought processes. In spite of any conceived notions concerning his race, McAllister always did what he felt it was the best he could do for a specific scenario.

Additionally, Dear Martin gives a story of well-thought-out and well written characters where every character feels real. What is most interesting is that each characters are representative of attitudes of individuals from all walks of life in society. The characters are a reflection of the attitudes of individuals from all walks of life. The interactions and dialogue between characters in the novel felt natural as they flowed well in line with the story’s context. The one character that stood out for me was Manny. This is because he is the complete opposite of McAllister. Manny was born into a well-off family, unlike McAllister, who studies under scholarships. He also avoided interactions with individuals from his own race and he did not bother to take any action and ask the questions that needed to be asked. When his peers made racist remarks to him, Manny would take it and comply. Even as the study continues to progress, Manny opens his eyes to what is truly happening in society and sees the injustices for what they are. The way Stone develops Manny’s character from the start to, from when he is naïve up to when he wakes up to the rampant racism that is going on, is impeccable. Manny is one of the most remarkable characters in the novel as he reminds us about the people that tend to turn a blind eye to issues. He is a reminder that no matter how reluctant a person is, they are still bound to change.

The chapters in the book alternate between detailing the encounters of McAllister and the letters that he was writing to the spirit of Dr. King. I enjoyed reading the letters for numerous reasons. One of these reasons is that the lessons drew parallels between what is currently going on in society in matters of racism and the issues that transpired during the reign of Martin Luther Kings as president. Although it has been years since his passing, the letters that McAllister writes prove that clearly, things have not changed much. The issues keep recurring, if not getting worse. Worth noting, McAllister’s letters speak to his character. The author writes this part of the novel in the third-person to help the readers understand where McAllister’s point of view. The letter displays his thoughts and emotions and shows that he is taking responsibility because the treatment of people of color did not sit well with him. The writing style that Stone employs is concise and straightforward and details the occurrences and ongoing issue without over complicating the plot. The author tackles the story’s content thoughtfully and never stops impressing his readers. The only issue I have is that the present-tense that he employs can potentially disrupt the otherwise perfect story.