(6/20) Dear Justyce – “20 YA Novels for Adolescents”

Dear Justyce is a young adult fiction novel written by Nic Stone. It was published on September 29, 2020 and it consists of 288 pages. It is a sequel to the novel Dear Martin that was published on October 17, 2017. The awards and nominees for the novel were:

  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award NOMINEE 2022.
  • Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year SELECTION 2021.
  • Kansas State Reading Circle Award SELECTION 2020.
  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers SELECTION 2021.
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults SELECTION 2021.

Dear Justyce is about a teenager named Quan Banks who is incarcerated. While in Juvenile, he writes letters to his best friend, Justyce, who was the main character in the previous novel Dear Martin. The novel not only focuses on Quan Banks life in the American Juvenile justice system, but it also focuses on the American Juvenile justice system in general, the flawed practices, and the injustices.

I wanted to read this novel because although I read a lot about our society, legal system, and the injustices, I haven’t read much about the injustices teenagers in particular face, especially teenagers who are POC. I think Dear Justyce is the first novel I read where the experiences of a teenager who is a POC in Juvenile is being told from their perspective.

I would recommend this novel to fifth graders and up and I would read it as a group. When it comes to novels about race, gender, injustices, or just about our world and society in general, I think it’s important that everyone is exposed to it all. Since we are talking about people’s lives and experiences, especially negative experiences, the content should have to be relatable to us in order for us to be exposed to it.

For a read aloud, I would especially read:

  • Pgs. 48 – 51, “Quan’s First Arrest”.

  • Pgs. 97 – 99, “Letter to Dad”.

Although I truly enjoyed reading Dear Justyce, I would have loved if the story was told from Quan’s perspective as opposed to it being told for third person perspective. With that said, I did enjoy how there was a mixture of a third person perspective and a first person perspective (the first person perspective was presented by including all the letters Quan wrote to Justyce). It’s not a mixture that I see in many novels, so I it’s unique touch that I thought was very interesting.

I wonder if there are more novels out there that shed light on the American juvenile justice system. Dear Justyce is a novel that focuses on that and Nic Stone’s writing shows it very well. I would love to explore more novels that focus on more specific issues- like Nic Stone did with Dear Justyce by focusing on the American juvenile justice system- as opposed to tackling every POC injustice by addressing them all at the same time without an opportunity to do something about them.

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