About the Book:
Title: DEAR MARTIN
Author: Nic Stone
Pub. Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.
Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.
I am so excited to have Nic Stone stop by the blog today. I think this book is so important as a mirror, windows and door book! It's a needed mirror book for right now, yet it's also an important windows book for right now. It's a windows book for me and I took the opportunity to ask Nic questions that were rolling around in my mind. Not surprisingly, her answers have made me think even more! Without further ado, here's Nic:
Hi, Mrs. Knott! Thank you for having me :)
1. Can you tell us about the significance of Justyce's name?
So the use of Justyce is a very deliberate double entendre. The book, to me, is really an allegory. If you take some of the things that happen to Justyce, the character, and change the “y” to an “I” so that they happen to justice, the sociological concept, I think you’ll find that the situations are still very realistic. For instance: the novel opens with Justyce being unfairly arrested and made to sit in handcuffs without having done anything wrong. It could be argued that the concept of American justice is currently being unfairly detained.
Also, a fun fact: in a previous draft, Justyce had a sister named Liberty. As I’m sure you can imagine, she had her own set of allegorical struggles, lol.
2. Who do you want most to read this book?
EVERYONE. I really mean that. I really and truly believe there is something for everyone in this book, whether it’s humanized representation (African American teen boys), encouragement in your power to bring about change (teen girls), or a safe space to examine one’s own biases (pretty much everyone). Also, I worked super hard on it, so the more people who read it, the better I feel about how much went into it.
3. Race was a factor throughout Justyce's life - friendship, school, girlfriends, the law. How were you able to weave these strands together so well? What went into the planning stages of the book?
Believe it or not, this is a VERY different version of the book than the initial draft. THAT draft had eight points of view and was non-linear, so it was very tightly plotted and well outlined. We scaled the whole thing down and simplified it for the final version, but I’m thankful for the heavy planning because it did help to make the shorter, simpler version very tight (at least I hope it’s tight, lol). I will say though: as a black person, all the things you mentioned have always intersected with race in one way or another, so the way you see them come together on the page was very *organic* as they say.
4. The book mostly takes place at a predominately white preparatory school. Did you ever consider having it in a different setting?
I didn’t! While I went to public school, that only-black-kid-in-class dynamic was a very real thing for me, and that’s the experience I wanted to reflect on the page in Dear Martin. Oftentimes, when awful and unjust things happen to African Americans, I’ll hear people say “Well if he would’ve just followed the rules…” or “if he’d been an upstanding member of society…” or “If hadn’t looked like such a thug…” the bad thing wouldn’t have happened. But that frankly isn’t true, and that’s what I set out to show in the book: this good, respectable kid wasn’t any more immune to prejudice or racist assumptions than the guy who sags his pants and “looks like he’s up to no good.” It’s a wakeup call for Justyce that being good won’t make people less prone to judge him harshly, and hopefully it’ll be a wake up call to readers too.
5. There have been more books being published in #ownvoices and books that have resulted from Black Lives Matter and We Need Diverse Books. Do you think these books are starting to make a difference in the conversations readers are having?
I honestly couldn’t tell you at this point? For me, It’s difficult to say because most of the readers I encounter are readers who already feel these books are necessary. I sure HOPE they are though!
Thank you so much to Nic Stone for answering these questions, and thank you to Rock Star Book Tours for letting me jump on board this tour!
Here's more about the fabulous Nic Stone:
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.
Be sure to stop by the other stops on this blog tour. Find more reviews, interviews and guest posts!
10/16/2017- LILbooKlovers- Interview
10/17/2017- YA Bibliophile- Review
10/18/2017- Mama Reads Blog- Guest Post
10/19/2017- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
10/20/2017- Eli to the nth- Excerpt
10/23/2017- Chasing Faerytales- Review
10/24/2017- Omg Books and More Books- Interview
10/25/2017- BookHounds YA- Review
10/26/2017- Novel Novice- Guest Post
10/27/2017- The Bookish Libra- Review
Never Too Many To Read- Review-
Mrs. Knott's Book Nook- Interview-
Reese's Reviews- Excerpt-
Novel Ink- Review-
Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post-
Amanda Gernentz Hanson- Review-
Lisa Loves Literature- Excerpt-
Feed Your Fiction Addiction- Review-
Lost in Ever After- Interview-
A Backwards Story- Review-
Thanks to the generous people at Rock Star Book Tours, they are giving away 3 copies of Dear Martin. Be sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win this amazing book. Open to U.S. residents only.