Booklist Reviews 2017 August #1
*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.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2018 Spring
Black seventeen-year-old Justyce experiences police violence and his prep school classmates assume his Yale acceptance is because of affirmative action, yet his neighbors call him a "race-traitor." Justyce's letters to Martin Luther King Jr., alternating with the main narrative, are an effective device: what would Dr. King think about recent headlines that inspired the novel? Stone avoids easy resolutions and lets hope reside in unexpected places. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2017 #6
"I know your kind: punks like you wander the streets of nice neighborhoods searching for prey. Just couldn't resist the pretty white girl who'd locked her keys in her car, could ya?" So seventeen-year-old Justyce McAllister, who is black, hears after being shoved to the ground by a police officer ("CASTILLO [the officer's nameplate] reads, though the guy looks like a regular white dude"). Thing is, the girl is mixed-race and is Justyce's sometime-girlfriend (and drunk), and he was helping her get home. The opening scene is one of several that illustrate Justyce's feeling that "no matter what I do, the only thing white people will ever see me as is a nig--an ‘n'-word." Ranked fourth in his class at exclusive Braselton Preparatory Academy, he's been accepted to Yale, but his classmates assume it's only because of affirmative action. In his own neighborhood, people criticize him for being a "race-traitor" who's "gotta stay connected to the white man for the ride to the top." To sort his life out, Justyce begins writing "Dear Martin" letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Alternating with the main narrative, the letters are an effective device. What would Dr. King think about recent events surrounding Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the many others who have died and become headlines, the real-life people who inspired this novel? Stone veers away from easy resolutions while allowing hope to reside in unexpected places. dean Schneider Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2017 July #5
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.