Featured Review Post: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone 

October 17, 2017 – Crown Books for Young Readers

Purpose: Review, Black Writers Matter

Source: Publisher, by request

I was given a copy of this, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

2 Stars 

Goodreads Summary 

I have a lot of feelings about this book, I requested it because I knew that this was going to be an important book. I still believe that this book is an important book and I would still recommend that people read this, be a part of the conversation. was

Initially, when I finished reading this book my instinct was to separate my feelings from the review of the book. At that point, my rating was 4 stars.  I wanted to do this because I felt that my reaction to the book was not being fair to the intent of the book. I wrote out a review that stood in contrast to my reaction. A small part of this is simply because I felt bad, and uncomfortable. After the warm welcoming of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  Dear Martin will either be rolled into this avalanche of praise or it will be rejected as a knock off.  I’ve already seen positive reviews of this book, and I can understand it. But, in truth, I think this book is very one-sided and slanted which makes it very dangerous.

I know and believe that the author has every right to write the book any way that she wants to, especially since it is a work of fiction.  I think it is dangerous because of the times we are living in today. The racial climate is tense, divisive at best and simmering at worst.  Now that I have made all of those disclaimers, on to the review. (I am going to bypass talking about what the book is about, if you don’t know you can click the Goodreads link.)

Justyce is the main character, and he is someone who doesn’t fit in completely at school or in his neighborhood. In his neighborhood, he is rejected because of the school that he attends- a private school usually reserved for the well off. In fact he lives on campus and occasionally comes home. He doesn’t fit in at school, because he is one of the few black students in a predominately white school, and I believe that he is there on scholarship.

There is a lot of discussion about race, thanks to the socio-something class that they are in, the only class that they attend since they never seem to go anywhere else.  There is also the fact that friendships are also racially charged, and up until the ending you’re convinced that most of them were for social reasons.  I think that it’s great that the book is dripping with all of the racial discussions; how race plays into friendships, how race plays into the police interactions, how race affects education etc….  All of these things are important and worthy to be discussed. My issue with the discussion is that they are one-sided. Even the opinions and thoughts that were supposed to come from the white characters sounded as if it was what a black person thinks a white person would say.

Friendships in this book came in all varieties. Some got more attention than others. Some were better developed than others. As someone who grew up being the only black person in groups of white people, almost everywhere I went, I have a problem with the friendship between Manny and Jared.  See, being one in minority in a group it is easy to know who is your real friend and who isn’t. You learn the ins and outs of that person and where you stand with them. It seems that Manny and Jared were friends for a long time, long enough for Manny to know that Jared was or wasn’t the real deal. I get that we weren’t supposed to know that in the beginning. But, it appears that even Manny doesn’t know it. He was easily persuaded by Jus, when in reality Jus is an outsider to Manny and Jared’s friendship.

I wanted to like the relationship between Jus an SJ, I really do. But in truth, this is a relationship that is filled with issues that should have been worked out beforehand for it to be successful. I was optimistic about it, until a comment SJ made at the end.

These are the most glaring issues that I have with this book. The rest are mine and can be summarized with me saying that I wanted more.  There wasn’t enough to fully flesh out the discussions or the relationships. Everything stayed just around the surface, and I wished that Stone had dug just a bit deeper.

While this book is excellent as a conversation -starter, it shouldn’t be the only book read for this purpose. This book is like trying to build a bridge. Instead of both sides working together, it’s one side building on one side and then running to other side to work on it. That’s a lot of work for one side to do, and it’s not fair. This book is dismissing those from the other side who is willing to together to build the bridge. The racial issues may have begun from the wrongs of one side, but it continues and perpetuated by both sides.

And before someone comments about how I just don’t understand- I am black and I am in an interracial relationship. I get it. Jus’s story highlights issues that are way too common and is a story that is hauntingly familiar. It is one that hits too close to home, one that must be told.  But this is not the overall black experience, and cannot be viewed as such.  But it is also a story that can’t be dismissed. While I am not sure of the author’s intent and I would not dare say that she was attempting to reveal what’s behind the curtain of the black experience. I will say that this is a great way to begin discussing issues and thoughts. I think it’s a great tool to use to be reflective of our own ideals and beliefs.

Honestly, I am not sure if I was clear with all of my thoughts. I enjoyed this book, I think being inside of Jus’s head gave the story a unique perspective with its own set of challenges and limitations. But, even so I found that it wasn’t an original story and it left me wanting more – so much more. But it also made me feel a lot of different things while reading it and that shouldn’t be discounted.  I think in the moment, people are going to feel a lot and that may cloud their judgment of the book in both positive and negative ways. But we can’t stay there in those moments. It’s not healthy or productive. I know that the feelings that stayed with me were the strongest feelings that I had while reading. I had issues, but I also enjoyed the story. Maybe it was because of the seeking, or the desire of Jus’s to understand and to grow.  Whether you agree or disagree, like this book or hate it. I hope you see how important  this book is.

Always Shine!

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October Featured Book: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone 

October 17, 2017 -Crown Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:  

Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

Always Shine!

Featured Post: Science -Professor Astro Cats Flying Eye Books

I had requested one of these books, digitally, for review, but I had trouble with the download. After talking with a representative from Flying Eye Books and talked to them about why I had selected the title for review, they offered to send me print copies of the requested titles and a couple of others. I was very happy to receive these books, even more when I saw that they are quality books.

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman

(Professor Astro Cat)

November 26, 2013

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This book gives an overview of space. It condenses a lot of information into bite size pieces. It is illustrated with engaging and fun photos. Astro Cat is the astronaut that leads you through the book. This books covers all things space, from the solar system to constellations to space exploring milestones. This makes venturing into space fun and curious instead of daunting.

Professor Astro Cat's Solar System

Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newmand

(Professor Astro Cat)

March 13, 2018

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for  my honest opinion. 

In this Professor Astro Cat Adventure, you are exploring just the solar system.  Professor Astro Cato begins with an overview of the solar system as a whole, and then visits each planet.  With each stop at planets, bites of information is given. Again the pictures are fun and engaging. The text is presented as bites instead of big chunks.

Professor Astro Cat's Intergalactic Activity Book

Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book by Zelda Turner and Ben Newman 

(Professor Astro Cat)

December 13, 2016

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This is an activity book that can be used with the other Professor Astro Cat books. All of the activities are science and space related. But they allow the child to work on a variety of skills from writing and decoding to drawing. There are experiments that can be done as well.

These are fun and engaging books. It is perfect for introducing these concepts to young people. Professor Astro Cat is the guide throughout the series, so it’s fun to find him through out the pages.  While, my son is too young for these books, I enjoyed them and I am sure he will as well in a few years. When I opened these books, he took them from me and flipped through the pages looking at the pictures and pointed out the pictures and everything that he could identify.

These books will be best enjoyed elementary age children, I would say second or third grade or above. Not only are they fun and informative, they are a great addition to any library.

 

Always Shine!

 

Top 5 Reasons to Read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

In case you didn’t know, The Epic  Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee is August’s Featured Book for this blog.  One of the main reasons I selected this was because I liked it way more than I expected to.  There are so many reasons to enjoy this book, and you can check out my review if you want the majority of my thoughts. But today, I have my top 5 reasons why I think you should read it.

epic crush

 

 

  1. This book is hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud a lot.
  2. Genie Lo is a well-developed, likable character.
  3. This is not just your average superhero story, it is much more than that.
  4. It’s so much fun to watch (or read) Quentin Sun and Genie Lo interact awkwardly with each other.
  5. Genie Lo and Yunie’s friendship. It is not the snippy frenemy relationship that seems to be rampant in YA. It’s the real deal, the kind of friendship that everyone should have, but especially if you just discovered you’re supposed to save your whole city and you have superpowers.

There are a whole slew of other reasons why you should read. But you shouldn’t just take my word for it. This is what Macky has to say about it: “I mean, my knowledge of Chinese legends is sparse, to say the least, but The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is to said legends the way Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is to Greek mythology.”

 

Always Shine!

Featured Post: Top 5 Superpowers I’d want if I Was a Superhero

epic crushThis post was inspired by The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee, the featured book for August.

1. Super Strength

2. The ability to manipulate time

3. The ability to move the earth

4. Invisibility

5. Shapeshifting

Have you read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo yet? What are you waiting for!

Always Shine!

August’s Featured Book

This is a new monthly feature. I will pick a book that stands out and feature it. There will also be promo posts to go along with the featured book.

This month’s featured book is:

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

August 8, 2017 – Amulet Books

From Goodreads:

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged. Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven. Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

Come back again for my full review and other promo posts.

Always Shine!