Book Review: Dear Justyce by Nic Stone @getnicced @CrownPublishing

Dear Justyce
Nic Stone
Crown Books for Young Readers, September 2020
ISBN ‎ 978-1-9848-2966-5
Hardcover

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone is the Young Adult, Realistic Fiction companion to Dear Martin. But, please do not pass it by if you’ve not yet met these characters. Dear Justyce does just fine on its own.

Quan is, once again, in Juvenile Detention. The difference: this time…he actually may not have committed the crime for which he is accused. Yeah, he panicked when the very officer that killed Manny swung his weapon toward Quan and his crew. He even pulled his nasty little .22. And brilliantly, he left it behind. Along with the cop’s body.

Hell, he even confessed…sort of.

Quan knew his rights and stated that he chose to remain silent. Several times. But the police had kept talking. And moving Quan from his holding cell to the tiny room with two-way mirror. And back.

Meanwhile, his friend from play-ground-days, Justyce, is working through his first year at Yale. They’re too tight for Quan to feel (much) bitterness. Plus, Justyce had given Quan his notebook filled with the letters he wrote to the late Dr. King, in lieu of a diary. The letters revealed issues that Quan hadn’t known his friend struggled with. Quan takes to writing to Justyce.

Turns out, the writing is therapeutic for Quan and intriguing to Justyce. He senses issues and injustices in Quan’s arrest and processing. The more he listens, the more Justyce believes that Quan’s case is not being taken seriously. Justyce makes it his personal goal to right this wrong.

While the story is as hopeful as it is heart-breaking, the hard truths are going to haunt me. I am so appreciative that Ms. Stone told Quan’s story and I’m pleased that I pre-ordered several copies. Now I can keep one for myself and still add this gem to some of my favorite high-school classroom libraries.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2020.

Book Review: Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

Adnan’s Story
The Search for Truth and Justice After “Serial”
Rabia Chaudry
St. Martin’s Press, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-250-08710-2
Hardcover

I am so glad that I read this book, but at the same time, I almost long for my ignorance.  It is easier to be unaware of how disturbingly incompetent and unconcerned the very people paid to “serve and protect” behaved.  The outrage really sets in when it becomes glaringly obvious that the plethora of mistakes made was not unique in the police work, but poured into the trial.

To me, this kid never had a chance.  There is not one moment where I thought that someone in the judicial and/or legal system truly considered Adnan–the person.  Not one time was he treated as “innocent until proven guilty”.  To say that the circus that replaced his trial was riddled with errors, illegal manipulation along with flat-out suppression of pertinent information, would be remarkably generous.

If, like me, you know Adnan’s story from the “Serial” (and/or subsequent) podcast(s), you know this.  And maybe, like me, you are still consumed with a sickening, gut-wrenching wonder as to how so much could go so horribly wrong—unquestionably, indisputably wrong—without any repercussions or efforts to acknowledge, own and correct the mistakes, then perhaps you already have this in your To-Read stack.  Basically—if you’ve been at all touched by this tragic but all too true tale—I whole-heartedly believe you will be grateful for Ms. Chaudry’s work.  The author says it best: the story “Serial told” “…was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth, or the whole story” and if ever there was a whole story—with its entire truth—that begged to be told, it is Adnan’s.

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2016.