Audiobook: Dear Martin
by Nic Stone, narrated by Dion Graham
Here’s a really great Young Adult audiobook about the complicated dynamic of American race relations and its impact on high school senior, Justyce McAllister, an African Amercian student on scholarship at an elite school in Atlanta.
Justyce has thrived in the protected environment of his private prep school and is looking forward to a successful Ivy League future. But everything turns inside out when he’s wrongfully arrested for trying to help his drunk, ex-girlfriend get home. Until his arrest, Justyce didn’t think racial profiling was something that could happen to him. But the sting of this treatment begins to open his eyes to the more subtle prejudices expressed by some of his classmates. Even his best friend, Manny, who is black, but has grown up in privilege, disappoints Justyce.
To make sense of these feelings, Justyce begins a Dear Martin project, writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Be like Martin,” he tells himself. The letters help at first, but events soon go out of control. Justyce faces racial tension on many sides: from his classmates, from his mother, and from the kids in his Atlanta neighborhood who live to survive.
In addition to the injustice of racial profiling, Nic Stone does a terrific job showing the many sides of this sensitive issue, including questions of privilege, affirmative action, the use of violence as well as acceptance and forgiveness. She also ties Justyce’s experiences to recent racial profiling cases, showing how even a young black man in a prep school is not protected from this dangerous thinking.
Conflict builds to frightening levels and violence results in a heartbreaking loss for the students at his school. As Justyce prepares for college, he will need to take these events with him and decide how to carry himself in a world that may never be completely free of prejudice.
I particularly enjoyed the audiobook presentation. Dion Graham is an excellent narrator, taking on a wide range of characters and telling an important story that is also entertaining and has feel-good charm. Stone tackles a complicated subject and helps explain the many sides in a way that I think teenagers can understand.
Thanks for visiting – come back soon!