by Nic Stone
read in May 2017
I received an e-ARC from Random House Children’s through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
It has been months since I wrote a review, but since Dear Martin is a review copy, I didn’t want to postpone writing it. I do have to put a little disclaimer at the top of my review: I am a white person. This book is written by a black woman and is about racial profiling in the USA. My opinion as a white person doesn’t matter, so please, read reviews by black people as well!
I was so excited when I found out my ARC request got approved; I started reading it right away! Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Dear Martin as much as I had hoped. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but there certainly were a couple of things I personally didn’t enjoy about this book:
Until I researched the author, I was convinced Dear Martin was written by a man. Some objectifying remarks about women were made, which is why I don’t tend to read a lot of books featuring male protagonists and/or books written by male authors. Can authors just stop with lowkey sexist remarks like “You sound like a damn girl right now with all this gossiping shit.”…
This book is too short to deal with such a serious topic. Obviously it wasn’t going to solve police brutality and racial profiling, but there isn’t a lot of room in this book for uplifting moments. The entire book consists of racist remarks, racial profiling, etc. As a white person I can’t know for sure, but I’m afraid this isn’t the most uplifting read for black teens. However, I could be wrong and there might be some who do enjoy reading a book that doesn’t sugar-coat the things they have to deal with.
My main issue was definitely the amount of coincidences and plot twists. Though I’m absolutely not denying these things happen to black people, I found it very unlikely that ALL of this would happen to the same person. I couldn’t take this seriously anymore because of that. Like I said, the book definitely portrays reality, but all of it combined was bit… much? I can’t get into this too much because of spoilers, unfortunately.
Towards the end of the book, I had the feeling as if a black character was killed off for the redemption arc of a white side-character. Once the black character is murdered, the white one decides to study African American Studies and Civil Rights Law, whereas he had previously made numerous racist remarks. I don’t feel comfortable condemning this as this is a book written by a black person, but I do think this is very iffy.
Having said all of this, my opinion really doesn’t matter. I have been in a reading slump for a while, so maybe I was too picky while reading this (though definitely not intentionally). I’d still urge people to pick up Dear Martin, because it deals with such an important topic and is a quick read.