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Dear Justyce
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Dear Justyce
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An NPR Best Book of the Year * The stunning sequel to the criticically acclaimed,  #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. An incarcerated teen writes letters to his best friend about his...
An NPR Best Book of the Year * The stunning sequel to the criticically acclaimed,  #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. An incarcerated teen writes letters to his best friend about his...
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  • An NPR Best Book of the Year * The stunning sequel to the criticically acclaimed,  #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. An incarcerated teen writes letters to his best friend about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system.
    An unflinching look into the tragically flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system.
    Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center.
    Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce—the protagonist of Dear Martin—Quan's story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there's a dead cop and a weapon with Quan's prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure.
    "A powerful, raw, must-read told through the lens of a Black boy ensnared by our broken criminal justice system." -Kirkus, Starred Review

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    Doomed

    Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr. remembers the night everything changed. He’d fallen asleep on the leather sectional in Daddy’s living room while watching Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (the movie), and was dreaming about Count Olaf—who’d gotten a tan, it seemed, and looked suspiciously like his mama’s “boyfriend,” Dwight—falling into a pit of giant yellow snakes like the one from Montgomery Montgomery’s reptile room. Screaming bloody murder as he got sucked down into the scaly, slithery quicksand.

    Quan’s pretty sure he was smiling in his sleep.

    But then there was a BOOM that startled him so bad, he jolted awake and fell to the floor.

    Which wound up being a good thing.

    Next thing Quan knew, more police officers than he could count were pouring into the house with guns drawn.

    He stayed down. Hidden.

    Wouldn’t’ve been able to get up if he tried, he was so scared.

    There was a commotion over his head—Daddy’s room.

    Lots of thumping. Bumping. A yell (Daddy’s?). Muffled shouting.

    Get down! Put your hands in the air—

    Oww, man! Not so tight, you tryna break my arm?

    Wham. BAM!

    Walls shaking.

    Was the ceiling gonna fall?

    Then the tumult shifted to the left. He heard Daddy’s door bang against the wall, then what sounded like eight tons of giant bricks tumbling down the stairs.

    Slow down, man! Damn—

    Keep your mouth shut!

    Quan closed his eyes.

    Chill out, man! I’m not resisti—

    There was a sharp pain in Quan’s shoulder as his arm was suddenly wrenched in a direction he was sure it wasn’t supposed to go. A thick arm wrapped around his midsection so tight it squeezed all the air out of him . . . or maybe it all flew out because of the speed with which his body left the ground.

    He couldn’t even scream. Looking back, that was the scariest part. That his voice was gone. That he couldn’t cry out. That he’d lost all control of his body and surroundings and couldn’t even make a sound to let the world know he wasn’t feelin’ it.

    It’s how he feels now as he jolts awake in his cell at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center, unable to breathe.

    Quan tries to inhale. And can’t. It’s like that cop’s still got him wrapped up and is squeezing too tight. No space for his lungs to expand.

    Can’t.

    Breathe.

    The darkness is so thick, he feels like he’s drowning in it. Maybe he is. Maybe Quan can’t draw breath because the darkness has solidified. Turned viscous, dense and sticky and heavy. That would also explain why he can’t lift his arms or swing his legs over the edge of this cotton-lined cardboard excuse for a “bed” that makes his neck and back hurt night after night.

    What Quan wouldn’t give to be back in his queen-sized, memory foam, personal cloud with crazy soft flannel sheets in his bedroom at Daddy’s house. If he’s going to die in a bed—because he’s certainly about to die—he wishes it could be that bed instead of this one.

    He shuts his eyes and more pieces of that night fly at him:

    Daddy yelling

    Don’t hurt my son!

    before being shoved out the front door.

    The sound of glass breaking as the unfinished cup of ginger ale Quan left on the counter toppled to the floor. His foot hit it as the officer with his dumb, muscly arm crushing Quan’s rib cage carried Quan through the kitchen like Quan was some kind of doll baby.

    The sudden freezing air as Quan was...

About the Author-

  • Nic Stone is an Atlanta native and a Spelman College graduate. After working extensively in teen mentoring and living in Israel for several years, she returned to the United States to write full-time. Nic's debut novel for young adults, Dear Martin, was a New York Times bestseller and William C. Morris Award finalist. She is also the author of the teen titles Odd One Out, a novel about discovering oneself and who it is okay to love, which was an NPR Best Book of the Year and a Rainbow Book List Top Ten selection, and Jackpot, a love-ish story that takes a searing look at economic inequality.

    Clean Getaway, Nic's first middle-grade novel, deals with coming to grips with the pain of the past and facing the humanity of our heroes. She lives in Atlanta with her adorable little family. Find her online at nicstone.info or @nicstone.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Nic Stone narrates powerful author's notes that frame her story and tell of her inspiration--teens without the opportunities that her first book's hero, Justyce, had. Dion Graham delivers first-person letters and the raw third-person story of 16-year-old Quan, who is wrongly incarcerated in a juvenile detention center. Quan and Justyce bonded as boys when Quan still hoped for a brighter future even though his father was in jail, his mother was being abused, and he himself had to care for his younger siblings. His letters to Justyce, who is attending college at Yale, finally provoke a legal response and results. Graham reads the letters with a mix of jive, envy, and caring. In the narrative he captures Quan's plight in an unjust criminal system--and the brightness and wit that thrive when he finds support. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award ďż˝ AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 5, 2020
    Stone tackles the American juvenile justice system and its unjust persecution of Black boys in this gritty, powerful sequel to Dear Martin. Atlanta 17-year-old Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr., called “Quan,” finds himself in the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center after being coerced into confessing to the murder of a cop. Through a series of letters to his friend, Yale pre-law student Justyce McAllister, Quan recounts his abusive home life and the desperate decisions that ultimately led to his arrest. After a hopeful revelation, Justyce enlists the help of his friend Jared Christensen; his girlfriend, Sarah-Jane Friedman; and SJ’s attorney mother to find a way to free Quan. Through Quan’s eyes, readers experience the hopelessness and solitude that have consumed his life since the traumatic arrest of his father when he was 11. Although the narrative’s letters, snapshots, flashbacks, and the midpoint addition of a second narrator may muddle the timeline, Quan’s unflinching honesty and vulnerability make him a protagonist readers will unequivocally empathize with. Stone deftly explores systemic oppression and interrogates the notion of justice, particularly in how Black boys are often treated as adults and lost in the school-to-prison pipeline. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rena Rossner, the Deborah Harris Agency.

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