Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

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Dear Justyce Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Nic Stone's Dear Justyce. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Nic Stone

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. She studied psychology at Spelman College but left after her junior year. She then spent the following four years in Israel, where she worked as a tour guide. It was her experiences there, listening to other people’s stories and writing long narrative emails to friends and family at home, that spurred her to become a writer. After returning to Spelman College and completing her psychology degree, Spelman hired an agent and began to write. Her first novel, 2017’s Dear Martin, which is the companion to Dear Justyce, topped bestseller lists upon its initial publication and again when it was rereleased in paperback. Her other young adult and middle grade novels have received similar accolades. All of Stone’s published works tackle either the experiences of African American or LGBT youth, or some combination of the two. In addition to novels, Stone has also written a number of short stories and essays, as well as edited anthologies. She currently lives in Georgia with her husband and two sons.
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Historical Context of Dear Justyce

Though Stone never mentions it by name, Dear Justyce takes aim squarely at the school-to-prison pipeline (or, as it’s become known more recently, the school-to-prison nexus). The pipeline refers to the fact that a disproportionate number of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds—specifically kids who are Black, Latinx, and/or disabled—end up incarcerated as teens or adults. Experts trace this to the now common presence of police officers in schools and disparities in educational quality and opportunities. Most important, though, are zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, which state that every student who commits a certain offense will receive the exact same punishment. The punishment is often suspension, even for minor offenses like tardiness. For some offenses, such as bringing a firearm to school, schools are required to report the student to local law enforcement—meaning that students will get in trouble with the law, not just with the school. Suspension, studies have found, increases the likelihood that students will feel alienated from their peers, get arrested, or drop out of school entirely—all of which increases the chances of a student being incarcerated. And as Quan observes, Black and Latinx people regularly receive harsher sentences than white people for the same crimes and are more likely to serve time in prison. According to the NAACP, as of 2014, 34% of inmates in the United States are African American, like Quan.

Other Books Related to Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce was conceived of as a companion novel to Stone’s 2017 novel, Dear Martin. Both books feature stories about young Black men growing up against the backdrop of mid-2010s American racism. These two novels, in addition to Stone’s other books, join a growing group of young adult novels featuring Black characters by Black authors. Notable works include Jason Reynolds’s verse novel Long Way Down, Angie Thomas’s novels The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, and the Legacy of Orïsha series by Tomi Adayemi. Stone herself has said that she writes about the kind of Black characters she wishes she could’ve read about as a young person, and many of the authors listed above have said much the same thing regarding their own writing. Quan mentions reading a number of novels over the course of the Dear Justyce. He grew up loving Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events series, which focus on the misadventures of three profoundly unlucky siblings. Once Doc begins visiting Quan in prison, he assigns classic 20th century works like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. One of the most important books Quan reads, though, is Richard Wright’s 1940 novel Native Son. As Quan explains, Native Son dives into the racist systems that seem to give Black men few options other than to commit crimes.
Key Facts about Dear Justyce
  • Full Title: Dear Justyce
  • When Written: 2019
  • Where Written: Atlanta, Georgia
  • When Published: 2020
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult Novel; Issue Novel; Epistolary Novel
  • Setting: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Climax: Quan learns that the prosecutors are dropping his charges.
  • Antagonist: Dwight, racism, poverty, and violence; Martel is arguably an antagonist, but not entirely.
  • Point of View: Dear Justyce employs a variety of points of view, including third- and first-person narration in addition to scripts.

Extra Credit for Dear Justyce

Help from a Star. While attending Spelman College, Stone had the opportunity to meet bestselling author Jodi Picoult, who helped her get a literary agent.