Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

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Quan Banks Character Analysis

Quan Banks, whose full name is Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr., is a 17-year-old African American boy and the protagonist of the novel. Quan has been imprisoned for shooting and killing Officer Castillo but, unbeknownst to most people, Quan didn’t commit the crime. Through letters to his childhood friend Justyce and flashbacks to his childhood, Quan traces how he transformed from an academic young kid with a bright future to a gang member and supposed killer. As a kid, Quan seems to be on the path to success: he has a gift for math and adults who support him. But after Daddy is arrested and Quan’s favorite teacher goes on maternity leave, things begin to go downhill. Mama’s boyfriend, Dwight, is abusive, so Quan partially blames Mama for his unsafe home environment. Around this time, Mama believes a false accusation that Quan cheated on a math test, which adds to Quan’s sense that Mama has betrayed him. The only place Quan feels safe is at the park in the rocket ship structure, where he fantasizes about blasting off to a better place. With Dwight controlling the family’s finances and EBT card (food stamps), Quan begins to steal things so his family can eat and serves jail time for this. Ultimately, he finds a supportive family with Martel and the local gang he runs, Black Jihad. Martel has Dwight murdered when he finds out about the abuse, which leads Quan to take the charge for killing Officer Castillo in an effort to protect his fellow gang members. In the novel’s present, Quan feels hopeless that things will ever change for him. He thinks it’s destiny that he ended up incarcerated. But through his letters to Justyce and as he winds up with a supportive team of teachers, counselors, and caseworkers, Quan begins to hope for the better—and tells Justyce that he didn’t kill Officer Castillo. Though things start to look up for Quan legally, Quan still feels like he’s destined to fail. He doesn’t think he can leave Black Jihad in good conscience after all they’ve done for him—and they probably wouldn’t let him leave, either. But thanks to a deal that Justyce bravely strikes with Martel, Quan is able to leave the gang and work for Doc’s tutoring service. By the end of the novel, Quan feels hopeful about his future for the first time since childhood.

Quan Banks Quotes in Dear Justyce

The Dear Justyce quotes below are all either spoken by Quan Banks or refer to Quan Banks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Crown Books edition of Dear Justyce published in 2020.
Chapter 1: Doomed Quotes

His foot hit [a cup of ginger ale] 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 whisked outside in his thin Iron Man pajamas with no shoes or jacket...and the subsequent strange warmth running down Quan’s legs when he saw Just. How. Many.

Police cars.

There were.

Outside.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Daddy
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

But then his lungs started to burn. Images of Dasia and Gabe popped into his head. He remembered telling Gabe he’d teach him how to play Uno when he got back from Daddy’s house this time. Little dude was four now and ready to learn.

Quan’s head swam.

Dasia would be waiting for Quan to polish her toenails purple. That was the prize he’d promised her if she aced her spelling test. And she did.

[...]

And Mama...

Dwight—

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Mrs. Pavlostathis, Dasia, Gabe, Daddy
Page Number: 21-22
Explanation and Analysis:
January 12 Quotes

The minute that van drove away with him in it, I felt...doomed.

It’s why I stopped talking to you. Everybody else too, but especially you. I woulda never admitted this (honestly don’t know why I’m admitting it now...) but I kinda looked up to you. Yeah, you were only a year older and you were dorky as hell, but you had your shit together in a way I wanted mine to be.

I knew if I could just be like you, my dad would be proud of me.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Daddy, Ms. Mays
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2: Downhill Quotes

Even at twelve, it didn’t escape Quan’s notice that the men in his mama’s life—Daddy included—used money to get her to do what they wanted her to do. It bothered him no end. But he wasn’t sure what he could do about it.

Which became a running theme: not knowing what he could do about anything.

So he stayed focused.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Mama, Daddy, Dwight
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

“And best believe your father is gonna hear about this. Might even send him the evidence of your indiscretion.” Quan could hear the paper crinkle as she surely held it up in the air. “Cheating. I can’t even believe you—”

And that was all he heard. Because in that moment everything crystallized for Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr.

It didn’t matter what he did.

Staying focused didn’t give Quan any control at all.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Quan Banks, Daddy, Ms. Mays
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
February 8 Quotes

Dude had all these obstacles he couldn’t seem to get past no matter how hard he tried, and it was almost as though falling into the life of crime everybody expected from him was (sorta) unavoidable? I know it probably sounds crazy to an upstanding young gentleman such as yourself, but for real: based on the systems in place—the “institutions of oppression,” as my former mentor, Martel, would say—homie’s situation and how he ended up kinda seemed like destiny.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3: Disrespect Quotes

So he told Mama—who for the first time wasn’t healing from a COAN encounter—that he was going out.

And he headed to his former favorite playground place.

Stepping over the latest evidence of unsavory activity inside his rocket ship (at least there wouldn’t be any babies or diseases?), Quan climbed up to the observation deck. Largely to hide himself from anyone who might take issue with/make fun of an almost-thirteen-year-old hanging out in the grounded space vessel.

But once he got up there, Quan relaxed so much, he fell asleep.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Dwight, Mama
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4: Defiance Quotes

He locked eyes with the cop, and the Bad (Dad) Night washed over him, and his chest

locked up

the way it had when kid-snatcher cop had Quan’s scrawny eleven-year-old torso wrapped in that death grip.

Wasn’t the best time for it either. Swole Cop took Quan’s inability to answer questions—

We got a problem here, son?

You hear me talkin’ to you?

So you’re a tough guy then?

Not gonna answer my questions?

—as an act of defiance.

Quan found air the moment Swole Cop’s ham-ish hand locked around Quan’s (still scrawny) upper arm in a death grip.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Daddy
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Delinquent Junior,”

Dwight had been calling him for years.

Was that who he was for real?

There was no denying the impulse to take what wasn’t his. Was the D in his DNA for delinquent? The Jr. shorthand of “Junior” for just repeating?

Maybe Daddy had been wrong. Ms. Mays too.

There was no way out.

No way up.

Maybe a way through...but he had no idea what to.

Could he really be anyone different than who he was?

Who even was he?

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Dwight, Daddy, Ms. Mays
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5: Delinquent Quotes

Trey couldn’t have known it (or maybe he could’ve?), but in that moment, Quan didn’t actually want to be alone.

He needed a friend.

Someone who cared.

Because from the moment Mama and Quan had stepped out of the fluorescent-lit law-and-order lair into the crisp Georgia evening, it was crystal clear to Quan that she no longer did.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Trey, Mama
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

“It’s this ceremony where a young Jewish dude becomes ‘accountable for his actions.’” He used air quotes. “So he goes from ‘boy’ to ‘man,’ essentially. Lawyer homie is sitting there all geeked, telling me about it, and I’m thinking to myself: So your son is a grown man by Jewish standards, yet still gets treated like a kid. Meanwhile ain’t no ceremonies for kids like us, but if we get in trouble we get treated like adults.”

Related Characters: Trey (speaker), Quan Banks
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:
Snapshot: A Boy Meeting a Man (2016) Quotes

“You mad about it?”

This gives Quan pause. It’s a question no one’s ever asked him, case managers included. He meets Martel’s gaze. “Yeah,” he says. “I am.”

“Why? You did the crime, didn’t you?”

Now Quan gulps. Last thing he wants to do is start sounding like some of the dudes in lockup who constantly complained about how “unfair” the system is. “Always take responsibility for your actions, Junior,” Daddy used to say. “I know the potential consequences of what I do, and I choose to do it anyway, so if it comes down on me, I don’t get to complain.”

Related Characters: Martel (speaker), Quan Banks (speaker), Daddy (speaker)
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
April 4 Quotes

The reason I joined the Black Jihad: I needed backup. Support without judgment. People who hadn’t—and wouldn’t—give up on me.

I needed a family.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel, Mama, Daddy
Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
Snapshot: A Boy Alone on a Run-Down Playground (2017) Quotes

Quan’s gaze drops. Lands on a word carved into one of the bench’s wooden slats in little-kid lettering:

F U K C

What are kids like Quan supposed to do?

He swipes at his dampening eyes and shifts them back to the black hole where his galactic getaway vehicle used to be.

Dwight is dead.

And Quan is here. Stuck. Grounded.

Forever.

No getting out.

No flying away.

No lifting off.

Because Dwight’s death wasn’t an accident.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Martel, Dwight
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
September 10, 2017 Quotes

Doesn’t matter now. I chose my path. Though, real talk—and I promise this isn’t me making an excuse—I don’t really see where there was a different path for a dude like me. Just like there probably wasn’t a different one for a dude like you. Is what it is, right?

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Daddy
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
April 24; Snapshot: A Postscript (Present Day) Quotes

I guess I didn’t realize just how big of a difference it could make to have somebody really believe in you. I been thinking a lot about Trey and Mar and Brad and them. We were all looking for the same things, man—support, protection, family, that type of shit. And we found SOME of it in one another, but we couldn’t really give each other no type of encouragement to do nothing GOOD because nobody was really giving US any. Matter fact, we typically got the opposite. People telling us how “bad” we were. Constantly looking at us like they expected only the worst.

How the hell’s a person supposed to give something they ain’t never had?

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel, Trey, Brad, DeMarcus
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8: Deal Quotes

But then they’d start searching for the gun that did match. Which could lead to trouble for everyone, Martel especially. Quan knew what contraband the guy had in his house. Which surely could lead to searches of Martel’s other properties.

Quan couldn’t let that happen. Especially not after everything Martel and the guys had done for him. He wouldn’t’ve been able to live with himself.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Martel, Officer Tommy Castillo
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9: Dawg Quotes

He kept pushin’. Come on, kid. We know you did it. Might as well just say so...shit like that.

When he said You know if we get one of your little buddies in here, we can get ‘em talkin’. You should just save ‘em the trouble, that’s when I broke. Just said

Fine, man. I did it. You happy now?

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Officer Tommy Castillo
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
June 1 Quotes

She came in and we talked for a while and she asked me a bunch of questions the other dude never asked. And I’m pretty sure she actually believes everything I told her. Which was even a little bit uncomfortable despite the fact that I was telling the truth.

I just didn’t realize what a difference it would make to be in conversation with someone who genuinely wants to keep me OUT of prison altogether. Shit made me realize that in all my years dealing with the system, I ain’t never had an attorney who wanted to see me totally free.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Attorney Adrienne Friedman
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

But he was telling me how growing up, he was this real good kid, until some stuff happened to his family.

So he went looking for a new family. Like a lot of us do. Same story with another dude we call Stacks. He’s constantly talking about “this guy” he knows (aka himself) and how “he was workin’ to become a musician,” but “he was young and ain’t have no guidance”; how “he just wanted a family so he went and found one,” but then “he got in trouble doing family shit.”

And that’s what it comes down to. We find the families we were desperate for and learn different ways of going about things. Ways that sometimes land us in places/positions we don’t really wanna be in.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10: Dasia Quotes

“Gabe misses you,” his mama says, and she might as well have dropped a bucket of ice water on his head.

He’d get up and walk away if not for the fact that it’s his mama.

And beneath all his fury,
he still wants her to love him.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Quan Banks, Gabe
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:
June 14 Quotes

This is a real-ass Catch-22. I read that shit a couple weeks ago. (HELLA trippy book.) The only way to stay OUT of what I really have no choice but to go back to is to stay IN here. But the longer I’m IN here, the more debt I’ll rack up for when I do get OUT.

Kind of a no-win, ain’t it?

Story of my damn life.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel, Trey
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11: Debt Quotes

What if it wasn’t me? What if it was a kid

LIKE you? One with your exact history?

Quan had to think then. But not for long. Because that answer was obvious too. “I’d still invest.”

Invest what?

“Time. Energy. Resources...” The next word shocked him as it popped off his tongue; it bounced around the room in an echo-ish way the others hadn’t: “Belief.”

Belief?

“Yeah. Everyone should have somebody who believes in ‘em. Like no matter what they’ve done. Somebody who won’t give up on them.”

Then:

“No strings attached.”

He did get the point then. HE was willing to do for someone else what was being done for him. At no cost and with no strings. It was the right thing to do.

Period.

Related Characters: Tay (speaker), Quan Banks (speaker)
Page Number: 225-226
Explanation and Analysis:
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground Quotes

The two BIG boys—if you can even call them that—chillin’ at the top of the climbing wall are wildly oblivious to the glares aimed at them from the actual children below.

Related Characters: Justyce (speaker), Quan Banks
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

“You miss [the rocket ship]?”

At first, Quan doesn’t respond. Because he really has to think about it. His eyes roam the always-clean park space. Touch on his mom [...] his sister [...] his brother [...] his best friend right beside him.

Only thing missing is his dad. But they write to each other weekly, and Quan’s been out to visit the old man a few times, so even that’s okay.

[...]

He smiles. “You know what, man? I don’t.”

“You don’t?”

“Nah,” Quan says. “No need to go to outer space.”

[...]

“Everything I need is right here.”

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce (speaker), Mama, Daddy, Dasia, Gabe
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Dear Justyce LitChart as a printable PDF.
Dear Justyce PDF

Quan Banks Character Timeline in Dear Justyce

The timeline below shows where the character Quan Banks appears in Dear Justyce. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Snapshot: Two Boys on a Brand-New Playground (2010)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
It wasn’t a hard choice for Quan to decide to run away. He feels bad about leaving Dasia and Gabe, but Quan... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
When he gets to the new playground, Quan heads straight for the rocket ship and wipes his eyes on his shirt. He’s glad... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan recognizes the name—Justyce is “that smart kid” who just won a contest. Justyce asks if... (full context)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Justyce says that Quan’s homelife sounds familiar, explaining that his dad was in the military and has been “different”... (full context)
Chapter 1: Doomed
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan remembers the night everything changed. He’d fallen asleep in front of Lemony Snicket’s A Series... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The cop whisked Quan outside. It was too cold for Quan to be in just his Iron Man pajamas... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Mrs. Pavlostathis led Quan into her house, grousing about “the nerve of those whites.” He’d smile under other circumstances—Mrs.... (full context)
January 12
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
In a letter to Justyce, Quan writes that it’s weird to write an actual letter, especially to Justyce. When Quan woke... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan writes that his Daddy was arrested a few years after he and Justyce met in... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan notes that Daddy’s job wasn’t “statutory,” but Daddy was insistent that Quan would do better.... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
But seeing what Justyce wrote about being set off, Quan wonders if Daddy’s attempts were pointless. At this point, it doesn’t matter—Quan will probably get... (full context)
Chapter 2: Downhill
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan tries to keep it together, even though he withdraws a bit. He stays focused by... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan overhears the conversation and, when it’s over, he heads straight for the rocket ship. He... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Then, a year after Daddy’s arrest, The Math Test arrives. Quan is the only seventh grader in the Algebra 1 Challenge Math Class, which is difficult... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Quan sprints from the bus, knowing that Mama will be home (Dwight beat her up again... (full context)
Snapshot: One Boy Alone in a Library (2012)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Quan is pushed over the edge when he discovers that his favorite librarian retired. Now, the... (full context)
February 8
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan thanks Justyce for sending the stack of graphic novels featuring Black superheroes. He also thanks... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Quan is also writing to share something he and Doc talked about earlier. Doc brought the... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan and Doc discussed how Quan could relate to the story. Quan’s ex-counselor, for instance, thought... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
When Quan brought this up with Doc, Doc asked if Quan thought the protagonist of Native Son... (full context)
Chapter 3: Disrespect
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
The “First Time” Quan does “it,” he, Dasia, and Gabe are hungry. Dwight has been living with the family... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Upset with everything, Quan escapes to the rocket ship to relax. He accidentally falls asleep, and it’s dark when... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Dwight is gone for more than a week, but Quan can’t feel happy about it because Dwight took the EBT card with him. Dwight also... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys Not Speaking (2013)
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan has no idea what to say to his cousin Manny. They live in different universes.... (full context)
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan wonders if Manny would leave if he knew that they barely have food at home,... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The food arrives. Quan got a lamb burger and sweet potato fries without the fig jam and goat cheese,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Defiance
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The only time Quan has ever felt as scared as he was the night the cops took Daddy was... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Later, Quan realizes the remodel included an upgraded security system, so the clerk saw the whole thing.... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan can breathe again when the cop grabs his upper arm. It hurts, and Quan screams.... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Quan sits alone in an interrogation room for two hours. He’s not sure how he got... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan knows that no matter how much Dwight hurts Mama, she won’t kick him out. He... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...in. She says, “Let’s go” and nothing else. In the lobby, while they wait for Quan’s belongings, cops bring a dark boy in kicking and screaming. He’s only a year or... (full context)
March 12
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan writes that he’s in love. Her name is Liberty Ayers and she’s gorgeous, though she... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Liberty met someone who wouldn’t let her “bury her bright spots.” And all this has Quan wondering what might have been. Quan and Trey met at the police station and when... (full context)
Chapter 5: Delinquent
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Trey is waiting for Quan inside the rocket ship. Quan came to the playground hoping to escape, so he stops... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Back in the rocket ship, Trey asks if Quan is going to cry and assures him it’s okay if he does. He admits that... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...he’d say something like that to his son, the lawyer was “shook.” Trey says that Quan is “in it” now and throws an arm around Quan’s shoulders. He says that there... (full context)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan gets lucky with his second arrest. He’d just gotten caught with a tiny pistol from... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Quan comes out of this experience different and “Enlightened. To darkness. His own.” There are other... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
When Quan gets out, Trey has also had an interesting year. His grandma died, he was expelled... (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Meeting a Man (2016)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan is nervous, even though he’s been hanging with Trey and the other guys for a... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
There’s no one in the living room, but a voice tells Quan to take a seat. From his perch on a sofa, Quan realizes that the room... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
A guy with a beard and an African shirt enters and offers Quan ginger beer. He makes Quan recite his full name and tells Quan to call him... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Martel asks what else Quan is mad about. When Quan looks confused, Martel explains that he did his master’s thesis... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan is stunned. He never expected Martel to be college educated, and the Huey Newton quote... (full context)
April 4
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Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan writes that when Doc was here earlier, he mentioned that today’s the anniversary of MLK’s... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Then, there’s the thing where Black kids like Quan and Trey get punished more harshly than white kids for the same crimes. If Quan... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
But Quan realizes there’s a huge difference between the letters Justyce wrote when he gave up and... (full context)
Chapter 6: Disclose
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
What comes next stands out in Quan’s mind. He’s been with Black Jihad for five months now. It’s a real organization, with... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
One night, as usual, Dwight goes on a drunken rampage. Quan hides Dasia and Gabe and has to flash his pistol to keep Dwight off of... (full context)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Four days later, the school office calls for Quan. He can’t figure out what he might’ve done wrong, but he’s certain he’s headed back... (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Alone on a Run-Down Playground (2017)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan knew he wouldn’t find the rocket ship; some guy overdosed in it and the city... (full context)
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Quan sits on a graffiti-covered park bench. He remembers when he used to actually play here... (full context)
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Quan looks back to where the rocket ship once stood and knows he’s stuck. Dwight’s death... (full context)
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Then, Martel told Quan that the safety of Black Jihad’s members is a priority, and they’ll take care of... (full context)
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Quan has been good since he got out of prison. He’s doing well in school and... (full context)
Chapter 7: Disaster
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Quan is determined to make this drop fast. While cleaning out the closet, Mama opened one... (full context)
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Martel has had a few drinks, so he’s chatty. He seems annoyed that Quan is in a hurry, but just then Brad races in. Brad says that the cops... (full context)
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...Martel’s Range Rover and sits in it. He instructs Brad to stand on the left, Quan to take the right, and DeMarcus to stand next to Trey. Quan remembers DeMarcus getting... (full context)
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...cruiser pulls across the driveway and stops, blocking oncoming traffic. Two officers get out and Quan’s consciousness seems to detach from his body. He feels like he’s watching a movie as... (full context)
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Quan can’t breathe and his ankle itches. Castillo is pointing his gun at the only man... (full context)
September 10, 2017
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In a letter to Daddy, Quan writes that he’s not sure how to start. There’s too much to write, though he... (full context)
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Quan apologizes one more time for failing to become what Daddy wanted him to be. He... (full context)
April 24; Snapshot: A Postscript (Present Day)
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Quan scolds Justyce for asking so many questions in his last letter. But Quan has answers,... (full context)
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Quan has been writing a lot about the sparks. Most of the sparks are linked to... (full context)
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This brings Quan to Justyce’s question of what happened the night Officer Castillo died. Honestly, Quan doesn’t remember.... (full context)
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But the other thing Quan knows is that three others pulled guns. Quan took the charge because he felt he... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys and a Girl in a Car (Present Day)
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...During the year, he often wrote to his childhood friend and secret “Fellow smart guy,” Quan Banks. In fact, Justyce checked his mailbox quickly before leaving campus on a hunch. There... (full context)
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...dad showed up and got him out of jail). Out of nowhere, Justyce says that Quan didn’t do it. SJ scolds Jared when he asks if Justyce actually believes Quan, and... (full context)
Chapter 8: Deal
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Quan sits across from Doc, working on the final essay that will earn him his high... (full context)
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Quan had known the police would come for him from the moment he realized he didn’t... (full context)
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Quan didn’t mean to confess to Justyce; it just happened. He felt lighter at first, but... (full context)
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Quan follows the superintendent in a panic, since they’re going into an unfamiliar hallway. He’s shocked... (full context)
May 18
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Quan writes to Justyce that he has lots of conflicting emotions right now. He’s excited to... (full context)
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The deal is tempting, but it’s brought up a lot of Quan’s newly diagnosed clinical anxiety. He’s been waiting for a trial date for 18 months now,... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys, a Girl, a Teacher, a Lawyer, and a Case Management Intern in a Basement
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...thanks Attorney Friedman, Doc, Liberty, Jared, and SJ for coming. He lays out the facts: Quan has been incarcerated since September of last year for a crime he didn’t commit. The... (full context)
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Doc and Liberty say that Quan is loyal to a fault. When Attorney Friedman asks them to elaborate, Doc notes that... (full context)
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Justyce brings up the fact that Quan’s gun didn’t fire the fatal shots. Jared is confused as to why they arrested Quan... (full context)
Chapter 9: Dawg
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Quan is flipping through a volume of poetry that Doc gave him when a guard barks... (full context)
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The boys hug despite the guard’s scolding. Quan feels like he’s on top of the world, but Justyce acts weird. He looks around... (full context)
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Justyce says that no one would be implicated. There’s enough evidence to get Quan acquitted. This seems like it should be a no-brainer, but Quan is worried walking away... (full context)
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The first time they questioned Quan, he exercised his right to remain silent. They left Quan alone for a long time.... (full context)
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Quan wipes his eyes and looks up at Justyce, who wears a “thinky” face. Justyce confirms... (full context)
June 1
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Quan writes that he fired John Mark, which Justyce probably already knows. Adrienne is his lawyer... (full context)
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Quan has been thinking about all the guys he’s met who have gone away for a... (full context)
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At the end of their meeting, Adrienne shocked Quan by saying that they all want to see him reintegrate into society and contribute to... (full context)
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Looking back now, Quan sees that so many kids who wind up incarcerated want to do the right thing... (full context)
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Quan wonders what will happen if he can’t escape this. He might disappoint everyone helping him... (full context)
Snapshot: A Prelaw Yale Undergrad, a Defense Lawyer, and a District Attorney in a Law Office
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...Attorney Friedman introduces Justyce as a prelaw intern. Justyce explains to Baldwin that he’s known Quan since childhood and they’ve been exchanging letters since January. They don’t plan to enter the... (full context)
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...Baldwin off and immediately regrets it. But he presses on and says that he thinks Quan’s Miranda rights were violated. Attorney Baldwin takes a few notes and promises to investigate these... (full context)
Chapter 10: Dasia
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Even though Liberty and Tay prepared Quan for Mama’s visit, Quan still feels like he’s going to be beheaded. Whatever she’s here... (full context)
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Quan thinks back to the prep meeting he had with Liberty and Tay. Their desire to... (full context)
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Quan half wants to flip the table over as he sits down across from Mama. She... (full context)
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Mama says that right after she lost her job, one of Quan’s friends came to check on them. It was Trey. Quan feels guilt, anger, and fear.... (full context)
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Quan knows Mama won’t look at him again. He asks if Dasia knows Mama is here,... (full context)
June 14
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Quan writes to Justyce that he’s not in a god place. He found out something about... (full context)
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Quan feels so messed up that they’re taking care of his family when he can’t. He... (full context)
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A real man would pay his debts and show appreciation through words and deeds. Quan thinks he owes them that kind of loyalty and then some, but what is he... (full context)
Snapshot: A Black Boy (and a White Boy) Visits a Black Man (and a White Boy)
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...why Justyce is here. Justyce stares at the floor and finally says he’s here about Quan. They’ve been communicating, and Martel looks almost impressed by this. His look turns suspicious as... (full context)
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Justyce says he’s been encouraging Quan. One of Justyce’s teachers took over facilitating Quan’s education, and Quan got his diploma. Martel... (full context)
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Justyce notes that Quan would probably be livid if he knew Justyce were here, but Justyce knows that Quan... (full context)
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...he should get something. Justyce asks what Martel wants. Martel wants the teacher who helped Quan get his diploma to tutor his boys. Hoping Doc will be cool with this, Justyce... (full context)
Chapter 11: Debt
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Quan is certain Doc can tell he hasn’t been sleeping well. Doc is part of the... (full context)
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Doc asks if Quan has been talking to Tay. He hasn’t, but he says he has. Quan knows that... (full context)
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It’s possible that Doc knows that what’s been keeping Quan awake is the envelope he received with one of Martel’s houses as the return address.... (full context)
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For Quan, the worst question is how long will it take for them to realize he’s not... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys, an Attorney, a Teacher, and a Disgruntled Guard in a Conference Room
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Quan almost trips when he sees Justyce in the conference room, dressed in a suit. He’s... (full context)
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Quan notices that everyone else (aside from Justyce in his suit) is wearing normal clothes. He’d... (full context)
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When it’s over, Justyce is grinning. He starts to say that he knew it, but Quan is angry and confused. Justyce says that Quan’s Miranda rights were violated. Attorney Friedman explains... (full context)
July 23
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Justyce writes that Quan can’t tell anyone, but documents from the state labs just arrived at Attorney Friedman’s office.... (full context)
August 27
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Quan writes that he feels weird writing to Justyce already, two days after Justyce left, but... (full context)
Chapter 12: Done
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Quan has been having wild nightmares for the last five nights. Tonight, he’s dreaming of Justyce... (full context)
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Suddenly, Quan can breathe and he sees Tay and Attorney Friedman leaning over him. This is embarrassing,... (full context)
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Quan gulps and sweats, but Tay and Attorney Friedman smile at each other. They have news:... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground
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...top of the climbing wall, oblivious to the real children who want to climb it. Quan tells Justyce that they look creepy, but Justyce insists this is the best spot from... (full context)
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Quan knows he shouldn’t ask, but he asks if Justyce has seen him recently. Justyce nods.... (full context)
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Quan asks if the guys in Black Jihad are doing well, and Justyce says they are.... (full context)
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Justyce changes the subject and asks how Quan is doing. Quan smiles. It’s nice to have Justyce around. He says the suburbs are... (full context)
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Quan asks how Justyce and SJ are doing. They’re doing well. Quan admits he’d love to... (full context)
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...men now, fall silent. The kids below snottily ask them to move, so Justyce and Quan jump down. Watching Gabe climb, Quan marvels that Gabe is 11—two years older than when... (full context)