The novel Dear Justyce by Nic Stone expands the world of Stone’s previous novel Dear Martin by exploring the life of Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr., a black teenager who must face the possibility of spending twenty years in jail. Through flashbacks, letters, and third person narration the reader learns about Quan’s past to get a clearer picture of his present. Oftentimes, the lessons Quan learns about relationships, destiny, and hope lead him to expect more from his life. He even gets acquainted with coping mechanisms to deal with his anxiety when things in his life are less than ideal.
This Young Adult book tackles many difficult themes in a very graceful way. Strained relationships, questionable role models, and feeling helpless are wonderfully portrayed through poetic writing. The only thing I would work on would be the slang and subtleness of the lessons. Minor changes could make some passages feel just as powerful as the rest of the book. Personally, this story was inspiring in the sense that it showed the legal system working successfully for one character, but also a reality check as many other characters still had to suffer because of the system.
All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to others. It is important for young people to be aware of systemic racism and the effects it has on people in the present, it isn’t something to disregard as irrelevant but to actively point out and dismantle. This is a good book for a young person of color wanting to see themselves in a book, or someone who wants to learn about others struggles. – Lynda Otero