You know that saying, the hero we need? It’s one of those that pop culture seems to alternatively apply to anyone/anything that does well – and, for a moment, as I contemplated how to start this review, I thought about calling Dear Martin, by author Nic Stone, the book we need.
It’s not the book we need, though – I realized not long after. It’s the book we deserve. And that’s something altogether different and more transcendental.
Why, you ask? What makes this different from hundreds of other books who go a little political and who attempt to present us with the author’s perspective on life, the universe, and everything, as Adams would say?
For that, I have two answers: good writing and a great sense of the moment we live in, and what people might not want to hear, but absolutely need to.
Look – I’m not a black teenager in America. But I am a WOC in a world that increasingly feels more hostile towards those that don’t adjust to the Hollywood stereotype, or maybe the Trump one. And though doesn’t reflect my personal experiences with this kind of systemic hatred, it does give me a window into someone else’s perspective in a way that doesn’t feel exclusionary, but inviting.
You don’t need to be like Justyce McAllister to appreciate Dear Martin. You just need to have a beating heart and an open mind.
I can’t even begin to imagine what this book will be for that black teenager in America, but I can say what it felt like for me. It felt like a punch in the gut and a promise of a better tomorrow, at the same time. It felt like we’re finally on the path to being able to face the mistakes of the past head on, and maybe, work together to overcome them.
It felt like everyone needed to read this book.
And, usually, if someone’s writing a review and saying this, it’s because the book is well written (which this is), not because the book might make you see reality in a different way.
Isn’t it lucky that in this case, it’s both?
Here’s the press release for the book – in case you need more fact than words. If I can ask you something, though, let it be this: don’t read anything else about the book other than this before you actually open it up. Let yourself be surprised. It’s worth it.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
Oh, yes. And, imagine, if the book can give you so many feels without actually opening, just wait for the lessons it will teach you once you do.
Dear Martin, published by Crown Books for Young Readers, will be available October 17th 2017.