Guys, I am so excited to be sharing this post! If you’ve been here a while, you might remember that I read Dear Martin by Nic Stone a few months back. I absolutely loved it and have championed it as one of my favourite book of the year so far. But I think that it might actually have some competition because I recently got to read the follow up, Dear Justyce, and oh my goodness. It is equally fantastic! So without further ado, I am going to share my book review of Dear Justyce by Nic Stone!
Side note: Although it works as a standalone story, I highly recommend reading Dear Martin first if you haven’t already. There are a lot of references and cameos… And it’s basically just one big spoiler alert if you want to read Dear Martin in the future. So yeah, read that first then Dear Justyce.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster Children’s UK and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
by Nic Stone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Date of Publication: 6th October 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: eBook (288 pages)
Content & Trigger Warnings
Domestic abuse, PTSD, attempted suicide, racism, gun violence, inequality in the justice system, mental health, panic attacks, poverty, classism, references to drugs, murder
Dear Justyce is the story of an incarcerated black teen, Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr. (aka Quan) who is writing to his childhood friend, Justyce, from prison. Until the end of part one, we have no idea why he’s in prison which makes it a super compelling read. We’re shown various snapshots of Quan’s life that essentially lead up to his arrest alongside the letters to Justyce in the same style as Dear Martin. For Justyce fans, there’s also a big arc in part two where we see him using his privilege to help Quan.
Because I loved Dear Martin so much, I had very high expectations for this and I’m pleased to report that it exceeded all of them. It’s a very different story to Dear Martin but an equally important one. Quan is a fantastic main character, I absolutely adored him and was rooting for him throughout the book.
What I loved most about Dear Justyce is how character driven it is. You really get to connect with Quan on a deeper level. We see what he goes through and how he becomes more disconnected over time because he doesn’t have a support system. So when we see him connecting with people, even Martel’s gang, you really get to see first-hand how important those relationships are to him. I think character development was done so beautifully throughout. And again, I loved Quan as a main character so much.
If you’re looking for a light and fluffy read, this isn’t it. There are a lot of heavy themes going on. You’ve got domestic violence, mental health, classism and of course the big one: inequality and systemic racism within the legal system. This is a big area for discussion and I can see both books in this series being great resources for educators teaching about racism and inequality.
- Underdog protagonist
- Mental health representation (anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD)
- Complex family dynamics
- All the emotions!
Read this if you…
- Enjoyed Dear Martin by Nic Stone
- Love YA Contemporaries with strong social themes
“I guess I didn’t realize just how big of a difference it could make to have somebody really believe in you.”
So there you have it, my review of Dear Justyce by Nic Stone. It’s out next month but you can pre-order it from all good bookshops. And again, I strongly recommend checking out Dear Martin if you haven’t already. Both books are just incredible and well worth the read.
Will you be picking up a copy of Dear Justyce? Let me know in the comments below!