Dear Martin by Nic Stone Book Review
Dear Martin by Nic Stone is about a teenager named Justyce, an ivy league-bound African-American student who becomes a victim of racial profiling when a cop views him as suspicious because of his skin color. These events turn Justyce into an insecure and naive teenager. With the support of the people around him he was able to fight through the struggles of racial profiling. Mainly through the help of SJ, Doc and Manny, Justyce becomes more of a responsible teenager towards the end of the story. From SJ’s loyalty and courage to Manny’s will to stand up for himself and his advice to all the way to Justyce’s role model Doc who supports Justyce while being very patient with him. This change in character starts with the loyalty and courage from one of his bestfriends Sarah-Jane Friedmen.
SJ (Sarah-jane) Friedmen is a Jewish girl who attends B.P Academy with her friend Justyce. She is also Justyce's debate partner at the school. Throughout the story SJ's courage showed Justyce how he can confront his main problem and her loyalty to Justyce gives him that strong feeling of support that he needs. Theses acts help Justyce change the way he acts. Though there are many moments where SJ did this to help uplift Justyce. This happens when she stands up for Justyce when Justyce gets a into Yale while Jared does not. So Jared calls him out for it. This is when SJ’s courage comes in, and she stands up and says: “ You cited Jus’s acceptance to Yale and your lack thereof as supporting evidence for that assertion. ignoring how effing racist it is to assume your test scores would be higher than Justyce’s”(Stone 4). In this dialogue, SJ is now defending Justyce from Jared’s racial assumptions that Justyce should have not made it into Yale instead of Jared because Jared believes he is smarter than Justyce simply because he's white, this happens in front of the whole class including the debate teacher Doc. This dialogue proves that SJ is trying to show Justyce true courage to face the hate and racism he gets and stand up for himself. This is a factor to why Justyce changes character but it was also SJ’s loyalty towards Justyce that supported him as well. Her supporting justyce through numerous events like the court meeting for Manny's death. and when he appears at her house and cries in her arms after almost joining a gang, though, she embraces him, and they decide to date. After high school, she attends Columbia University while maintaining a long-distance relationship with Justyce. and even after giving him the "cold shoulder" she still stood by his side supporting him. She also says to Justyce: “I want to be here for you. Anything you need a friend, a hug whatever”(Stone 18). This quote means that whenever Justyce is feeling down or needs support, that SJ will always be by his side to support him. In conclusion SJ's loyalty, support and courage affected the way Justyce acts dramatically in the story and it ends up changing him. But luckily that is not the only reason why he changed for he had friends like his best friend Manny.
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Manny is Justyce's best friend and one of the B.P academy's few black students. Manny comes from a very affluent and successful background, and has grown up among privileged white individuals, unlike Justyce. But like Justyce, Manny becomes a victim of racial profiling when he and Justyce are driving in which Manny and Justyce get shot at. Luckily Justyce makes it out alive but unfortunately Manny passes in the shooting. But throughout the story, Manny and Justyce's Brother-like friendship is shown on multiple occasions. But its Manny's advice and willingness to stand up for himself that helps lead Justyce into a good path towards the end of the story even though he dies. An example of this is when he gives advice to Justyce a day after Blakes party (when they got called a racial slur). He tells Justyce: .” My point is the world is full of guys like Jared and that employee, and most of them will never change. So it’s up to you to push through it. Probably best not to talk with your fists in the future”(Stone 13,14). The meaning of this advice for Justyce is to inspire Justyce to stand up to them and push through the racist comments he got from the party and so on. And to never give up on himself and believe that he can push away the racism and hate. Manny also tells Justyce that when he went to the festival with those “fools” “we saw this black lady with four kids, and this fool called her Shaniqua and made a joke about baby daddies, I couldn't take anymore Jus. I called him on the hit and he rolled his eyes. Told me to stop being so sensitive"(Stone 12). And he also told Justyce that he “pounded” Jared after he quit the team because Jared said “He can’t quit till Messiah set him free”(Stone 12).This also shows Justyce that he has to stand up for himself or the racial bullying will not stop unless he does so. He also has to have that type of mentality that Manny has when it comes to standing up for himself. With all this Advice and encouragement to not be afraid and stand up for himself rubs off on him, Justyce learns that he must stand up for himself and not lean on anyone to stand up for him and be responsible for his actions. But Manny was not the only person to help Justyce when he needed advice or help. there was his adult role-model Doc.
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At B.P Academy, Doc teaches societal evolution and is the leader of the debate team at the school. As an educated african-american, Doc is one of Justyce's only strong male role models. And Doc being one of the only positive role model for Justyce to look up to, it is important for Doc to always make sure Justyce is feeling positive. He does this by being supportive to Justyce when he needs help, and being patient with him and giving him advice when Justyce makes mistakes instead of scolding him. An example of Doc’s patience for Justyce takes place after Justyce’s fight with Blake when Blake refers Justyce to a racial slur and Justyces argument with Manny. A day after, Manny asks Doc to check on Justyce. Doc visits Justyce in his dorm room as a result, and while he knows that Justyce was intoxicated, he doesn't scold him. He seeks, instead, to lend a sympathetic ear. He tells Justyce: “the only way you’re gonna thrive is if you’re okay with yourself, man. People are gonna disrespect you, but so what? Guys like Jared don’t have any bearing on how far you get in life. If you know the stuff they’re saying isn’t true, why let it bother you?”(Stone 11). Going over the dialogue, Doc is telling Justyce that he will be happy if Justyce is okay with himself and Justyce should not worry about guys like Blake and Jared allow to ruin Justyce’s happiness, but if he does not do so and allow people like Blake and Jared to ruin Justyce’s happiness, then this will turn Justyce even more naïve and insecure. Not only does Doc give Justyce great advice about what he should do, but he is also very patient with Justyce and he lets Justyce speak about what's on his mine so he can get all the anger and frustration out of his head. An example of this is when Justyce is talking about how he does not know how Manny can put up with his racist friends when he says: “ I just don’t get how he puts up with those a******s”. “Oh.Sorry''(Stone 12). Instead of correcting Justyce’s language he smiles and says: “its ok. We’re in your domain. You were saying”(Stone 12). This dialogue shows Justyce’s stress and anger being put into a sentence. While Doc is listening he eventually hears Jus curse and even though Jus apologises he allows Jus to continue and let him speak his mind. Doc being patient and a good listener for Justyce, allows him to speak his mind to get the anger out of him which leads to Manny and Justyce making up and becoming close friends once again in the story. Without the support of Doc and his advice, Justyce would not have made it as far as he did and so on.
In conclusion, without SJ's acts of courage and loyalty towards Justyce, Manny's advice and leadership and even Doc's support and patience, Justyce would not have changed into the person he did at the end of the story. Going back to what i said in my thesis, my research confirms that through the help of SJ, Doc and Manny, Justyce becomes more of a responsible teenager towards the end of the story. Alone, Justyce was an insecure and naive teen, but with the support he gets from his friends and role model, turns him into a responsible, smart and successful teen.