Review of Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone
High School    Crown    288 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-9848-2966-5    $18.99
Library ed.  978-1-9848-2967-2    $21.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-2968-9    $10.99

In this sequel to Dear Martin (rev. 11/17), we are reintroduced to Quan, best friend of that book’s protagonist. Dear Justyce opens with a flashback to Quan and Justyce’s (then aged nine and ten) first meeting at a park where Quan has run to escape his mother’s abusive boyfriend. The novel then fast-forwards to an incarcerated Quan, remembering the day his father was arrested two years after that meeting. While in custody, Quan writes to Justyce at Yale. Through “snapshots” and letters we learn the circumstances and decisions that led to Quan’s arrest as well as the ups and downs of his friendship with Justyce. When Quan professes that he didn’t commit the crime for which he was incarcerated, Justyce becomes committed to clearing his name. While we learn Quan’s story largely through third-person narration, including some interspersed poetic text, it is the letters Quan writes to Justyce that are most powerful. Teens can relate to the feelings of alienation, loneliness, and confusion that lead Quan to make many of the choices that he does, even as the book explores the various ways our current justice system disenfranchises young people of color.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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