Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Published 2017 by Crown Books for Young Readers
210 pages, contemporary YA.
I finally read it. I've had it on my to-read list for at least three years. I started the audio version at least twice. I made pacts with others that I'd read it with them, then didn't follow through. I've read three other books by the same author. And this morning, I sat out in my backyard with some iced coffee and finished the whole damn thing.
Really good. 4.5 stars.
Here's the thing: those first tries kept giving me the wrong impression. The beautiful, messed up girlfriend and the everyday police brutality did NOT give me any warnings of the book's ACTUAL romance, let alone the ACTUAL police brutality. I was so caught off guard (rather like one would be if something like that happened to you) (and also like one would be if one didn't ever read the book jacket), and then Stone just kept slamming additional twists to the story. I even wondered at one point if (view spoiler) I liked the messiness of it, the asshole white friends some of whom grow and some of whom don't, the gang bangers from the old neighborhood, who may or may not be as scary as they've stereotyped to be, etc. People are complicated, nobody is easily put into a little box based on their group identifications, neither your worst nor your best actions define you.
I am starting to feel like there's a whole subgenre of "smart black kid dealing with soft racism at upper class white school they attend"--The Hate U Give, New Kid, and Piecing Me Together all deal with that. Is it that outsider stories are always compelling?
I'm definitely looking forward to Dear Justyce now!