*Starred Review* Perhaps a bright young man who is fourth in his graduating class, captain of the debate team, and on his way to an Ivy League school shouldn't have too many worries. But Justyce McAllister's grades have no influence on the police officer who handcuffs him while he's trying to help his inebriated ex-girlfriend. The African American teen is shocked and angered when the officer is cleared of all charges, and so he turns to the written work of Martin Luther King Jr. for direction, inspiration, and therapy. He presents a simple question to the late civil rights leader: "What would you do, Martin?" After Justyce witnesses the fatal shooting of his best friend by an off-duty officer, and his name is negatively spread through the media, he begins to withdraw from friends and family, only finding solace in his teacher, new girlfriend, and his continued ruminative letter writing to Dr. King. Stone's debut confronts the reality of police brutality, misconduct, and fatal shootings in the U.S., using an authentic voice to accurately portray the struggle of self-exploration teens like Justyce experience every day. Teens, librarians, and teachers alike will find this book a godsend in assisting discussions about dealing with police, as well as the philosophical underpinnings of King's work. Vivid and powerful. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
First-time author Stone explores an African-American student's increasingly intense feelings of displacement in his predominantly white high school in a tense story that will grab readers' attention and make them think. Written as a mixture of script-style dialogues, third-person narrative, and letters to Martin Luther King Jr., the novel explores high school senior Justyce McAllister's confrontations with racism and his search for identity at a prestigious prep school, where he is one of only eight black students. After nearly getting arrested while trying to help his ex-girlfriend, who's "stone drunk" and trying to drive herself home, Justyce becomes acutely aware of racial profiling and prejudice close to home. Pushed to the brink of despair when a close friend is shot by a white off-duty police officer, Justyce doesn't know what to do with his anger. Though some characters are a bit one-dimensional (including Justyce's debate partner/romantic interest and the interchangeable bros at his school), this hard-hitting book delivers a visceral portrait of a young man reckoning with the ugly, persistent violence of social injustice. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency. (Oct.)
Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 9 Up—Justyce is an African American teen caught between two worlds. He knows that the education he's receiving at a private school will grant him more economic opportunities, however he begins to question the effects his private school education on his own identity. Some of his classmates believe that the racial pendulum has swung too far, giving African Americans an unfair advantage over their white counterparts. The kids he grew up with believe Justyce has assimilated too much and has forgotten where he came from. He questions his blackness, his relationship with his biracial girlfriend, and his attraction to his white debate partner Sarah Jane. Through a series of journal entries, Justyce attempts to figure out his place in the world by exploring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. A violent altercation between a retired white police officer and his best friend causes Justyce to examine what it means to be an African American male in 2017. The length and pace of this well-written story make it a perfect read for reluctant and sophisticated readers alike. The main characters are well balanced and will resonate with teens. However, the voice of African American women is largely absent from the narrative. The characterization of Justyce's mother and his girlfriend are one-dimensional compared to some of the other protagonists. Still, this important work should be read alongside Jason Reynolds's and Brendan Kiely's All-American Boys and Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down. VERDICT An good choice for school and public libraries.—Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH
Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
Profiled by a racist police officer in spite of his excellent academic achievements and Ivy League acceptance, a disgruntled college youth navigates the prejudices of new classmates and his crush on a white girl by writing a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the hopes that his iconic role model's teachings will be applicable half a century later. A first novel. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
"Powerful, wrenching.&; &;JOHN GREEN, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down
"Raw and gripping." &;JASON REYNOLDS, New York Times bestselling coauthor of All American Boys
"A must-read!&; &;ANGIE THOMAS, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning #1 New York Times bestselling debut, a William C. Morris Award Finalist.
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend&;but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up&;way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.
"Vivid and powerful." -Booklist, Starred Review
"A visceral portrait of a young man reckoning with the ugly, persistent violence of social injustice." -Publishers Weekly - (Random House, Inc.)