Dear Martin by Nic Stone
I’m incredibly glad that Dear Martin exists. I love so, so much about it, from its setting in the South, to the brilliantly complex socioeconomics of its main players. Dear Martin is a smart take and a use of fiction as the device for social change that it always can be, but so often is not. Nic Stone wrote, as they say, the shit out of this book, and everyone should read it; at the least everyone should buy in for a beloved young person in their life, and I think that’s about as strong of an endorsement as I can give anything.
Plot: I’m not in the business of spoiling books (and @Sam did a dope and moving (& sober) review of Dear Martin recently, to boot), but I’ll say this: Stone’s book gives us a strong fucking look at police brutality against black people, experienced by a school community tragically living through it and the adults who love them. it starts rough and gets rougher and the whole time, it’s fucking complicated, as life so often is.
Writing Style: ok it might sound weird, but the best way I can describe Stone’s writing in Dear Martin (besides, “omg, this is amazing”) is… unobtrusive. I forgot I was reading a work of fiction and was affected by the development of the plot as if it were happening in real life, at my school, to my friends, in my community, on my news. I hope it doesn’t sound disparaging, because I want to take nothing away from her brilliance; I was so impressed by her Voice, but the way she was able to help the Story shine through was truly a Feat, and it was Awesome, All Caps.
I’ve written (lessbehonest, rambled) about how everything aint for everybody and some books aren’t “for me” as much as I might objectively enjoy the skill demonstrated by an author or enjoy her writing and the verve with which she does it. to that end, Dear Martin is important to me in different ways than it will be important for many, many readers, particularly for teenage and “true” Young Adult readers, those for whom both the novel’s characters and action will provide representation and assurance that they’re not crazy, that the fear and confusion they feel is valid, that identity is fraught, and fucking weird, and dictated to us by those who love us and hate us alike. Ten years ago, 18 year old P-Dollar$ign would have needed Dear Martin BAD (shidddd, all of his “colorblind” high school classmates surely did. i’m sure some of them still do, today, eyeroll.gif). I’m fortunate enough -in the antepenultimate year before i turn 30, and as a smart-mouhted, 6’0, 250lb black man in the South- to just have been moved by it and to have really, really enjoyed the process.
Pairing: moonshine, or as my grandaddy’nem call it, “Corn Liquor”, cuz my whole goddam chest hurts right now, and this is something I gotta do to become a man
Rating 4.9/5 shots