Books can not only be incredibly engaging and help us to escape the real world and travel to somewhere fantastical, but they can also be used to enact real and tangible change!
Over countless generations, authors have taken direct inspiration from the political and social situations of the world around them to create fascinating stories that make it easier to understand different points of view.
This tradition continues to this day, and in excellent form through the fantastic novel Dear Martin.
This novel is focused on black boy Justyce McAllister, a young man at the top of his class and destined to head to a great school.
However, when Justyce finds himself unfairly arrested one day, his life goes down a totally different path.
Dear Martin has won massive acclaim for its willingness to discuss racial issues and the life of minorities in modern America, and as such, you’ve likely read it yourself.
If so, you are probably here because you are feeling inspired to read something similar.
If you found yourself wrapped up in the story of Justyce McAllister in Dear Martin, then you won’t want to miss out on some of these novels, including Dear Justyce, and Tyler Johnson Was Here.
Themes In Dear Martin
The central theme of Dear Martin is discrimination. It is discrimination that is responsible for kicking the story of Justyce McAllister into action, as he is unfairly targeted by police officers as a result of his skin color.
Over the course of the story, readers are shown a number of the ways that discrimination can subtly affect the lives of minorities across the world, which proves incredibly enlightening.
Discrimination is not always immediately obvious, so this novel can help people to more easily identify the subtle injustices that minorities often face.
Another of the central themes in Dear Martin is that of appearance. The book explores how many people use simple things like appearance, such as an individual’s skin color to justify discrimination and racism.
Despite the fact that Justyce is an honors student at the top of his class, the police officers that wrongly arrest him reduce him down to just his skin color, which they assume signifies that he is a troublemaker.
The novel also explores ideas of acceptance, as Justyce turns to the writings of Martin Luther King in an effort to better understand the fight that Luther King engaged in to help fellow minorities to find acceptance in society.
Justyce contends with the sad reality that acceptance must be fought for, and throughout the novel learns more and more about some of the systemically racist aspects of society that have landed him in such an unfortunate position.
The story also sees Justyce unfairly targeted by the mainstream media, at which point the novel explores the power of media, including the impact that social media can have, and how it clashes with more mainstream and traditional media.
It’s incredibly fascinating, and very well fleshed out. Readers will learn a lot from reading through this novel.
Books Like Dear Martin
If Dear Martyn totally changed your life, then we have no doubt that you will get a total kick out of Dear Justyce, the official follow-up to Dear Martin.
This novel, also written by Nic Stone, has received just as much critical acclaim and has become a total classic in the eyes of many Dear Martin fans.
This novel instead follows Vernell LaQuan, another boy who lived just a block down from Justyce in Atlanta, but when Justyce finally makes his way to university, LaQuan instead finds himself relegated to a youth detention center.
Rather than sending letters to Martin Luther King, LaQuan instead sends letters to Justyce, hoping to understand how he was able to rise above his situation in the prior novel.
The clock is constantly ticking throughout this novel, as LaQuan desperately searches for justice and tries to clear himself of an unfair murder charge. This makes the novel just as engaging as it is enlightening.
It’s difficult to pass up the opportunity to read another page (or another chapter!), and you’ll find yourself getting through the book in next to no time at all.
- A direct follow-up to Dear Martin, perfect for fans of the original.
- Delves further into the themes of the first novel while introducing new ones!
- Very similar to the first book, though still of high quality.
Themes: Injustice, Prejudice, Race, Justice.
This is another fantastic novel that explores injustice and does so with absolute grace.
The story is based around Marvin Johnson, who decided to join his twin brother Tyler at a party, hoping to keep an eye on him. However, the party soon turns to disaster, and that night Tyler goes missing.
Unfortunately, the next morning, Tyler is found dead, and leaked videos show him being shot and killed by a white police officer.
Marvin now finds himself needing to take charge of his household as he and his mother are overcome with grief.
Amidst his new responsibilities, Marvin sets out to find out what happened to his brother, and why such injustice was able to occur in the first place.
This is a novel unafraid to directly tackle the subject of police brutality and injustice for minorities at the hands of the police.
Marvin coming to terms with his brother’s death and fighting to seek justice is simultaneously emotional and harrowing, while also being uplifting, making great reading for younger bookworms.
The novel will inspire everyone to seek justice for all.
This is one of the very best entries on this list and a very emotional read.
- Deals directly with themes of police brutality.
- Potentially triggering for readers of any age thanks to its subject matter.
Themes: Police brutality, Injustice, Justice, Death, Grief, Family.
We figured that it would be interesting to close off this list with a look at a book that is actually based entirely on a true story. This book follows the story of two teenagers living in Oakland, California.
The two used the same bus but never interacted, but after one fateful day, after a bias crime, the two find their lives intertwined in ways they never would have expected!
On the 57 bus, one day, Sasha, a white teen finds themselves the victim of a bias crime that leaves them with severe burns all across their body.
Richard, a black teen, who just happened to be in the vicinity, finds himself unfairly charged with said crime, and faces life imprisonment.
Over the course of the story, we learn a little more about the two teenagers, and the injustice that not only allowed the bias crime to occur but also the injustice that allowed the crime to be entirely pinned on one hapless teenager.
It’s a very emotional story and one that is made all the more harrowing when you consider that it is entirely nonfictional.
If you want a book that will influence you to enact social change, then this is the one. It is an incredibly potent work that you will have a tough time forgetting about.
Perhaps best of all, the book is incredibly easy to read, and is on the slightly shorter side, which makes it a great option even if you are a busy person with a tight schedule!
- Based on a harrowing true story.
- Incredibly well-written and researched.
- One of the shorter entries on this list.
Themes: Prejudice, Injustice, Crime, Discrimination, Racism, Homophobia.
These are just a few of the many modern novels that touch on issues of race and injustice, but if you are looking for something that can stack up to the sheer genius of Dear Martin, then you really cannot go wrong with these entries.
Each of the novels touches on very similar subject matter and features very similar prose.
Despite this, each of the novels is also a fully-fleshed out work in its own right and offers a unique reading experience and perspective on the shared themes.
Reading all of these novels would be a great way to better understand the issues that they all touch on.
Why not give these novels a try? They each offer something different, and each of them is well worth your time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Age Is Dear Martin Appropriate For?
Dear Martin is best recommended to be read by readers at least 15 years of age and older. This is because of the potentially distressing subject matter and darker content that it touches upon.
What Was Justyce Accused Of?
The incident that sets the novel into motion involved Justyce getting into a misunderstanding as he attempted to stop his intoxicated ex from operating a vehicle.
Is There A Second Book To Dear Martin?
Yes. There is an official sequel to Dear Martin in the form of Dear Justyce.