Crown Books for Young Readers, September 2020
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.