Justyce goes to Bras Prep, where he is top of his class and looking to go to Yale at the end of his senior year. He is on the debate team, is (usually) with the hottest girl in school as well as having his best friend Manny at the school with him.
One night, he goes to meet Melo – his ex-girlfriend – and assist her after she’s passed out near her car, having been drinking. He attempts to assist her home to avoid her getting into trouble. She’s too drunk to get herself home and he’s only trying to help. But none of that matters to the police officer who arrests him, putting him in handcuffs and refusing to listen to his truth.
Justyce decides to look further into the teachings of Dr Martin Luther King and think ‘what would Martin do?’ during different points in his life. He writes letters to him, openly thinking about how MLK might handle the daily situations he finds himself in.
Then, when Justyce and his best friend Manny get caught in the crossfire with an angry police officer, everything changes again. How do Dr King’s teachings hold up now?
I bought this book because, like most of the world right now, I wanted to educate myself further about #BlackLivesMatter. Whilst I have also bought a couple of non-fiction books which discuss race, I wanted some fiction books too as I really think they help promote empathy and understanding too.
Dear Martin was a really eye-opening read. We follow Justyce through his prep school where he becomes much more aware of the inequality, racism and disproportionate opportunities which are available. He goes through his own developing of understanding through writing to Dr King and thinking ‘what would Martin do?’. The way he does this is almost ‘talking out loud’ and really talks through the talk process Justyce goes through, and then provokes your own thinking too.
I am a huge advocate for how books can build emotional literacy and empathy, but I was surprised at how much impact this book had on me. It really made me consider our own schooling systems in the UK and how Justyce might feel if he were here, or in the school I teach in.
A really highly recommended read; I am looking forward to the sequel which is out later this year.
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