Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Dear Justyce can help.
Summary
Analysis
Quan writes to Justyce that he has lots of conflicting emotions right now. He’s excited to get his diploma tomorrow, but he’s still reeling after his lawyer shared that the state is offering him a plea deal. The state is offering to reduce the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter and drop the four other charges. He might be able to go back to juvenile court, but either way he could get up to 20 years. This complicates things. Quan’s lawyer was all too chipper as he pointed out that if things go well, Quan could be out by his 30th birthday.
John Mark’s enthusiasm makes it clear that in his mind, this seems like a fantastic deal. But this ignores the fact that if Quan accepts the deal, he’s still incarcerated for at least the next decade for a crime he didn’t commit. Because of this, Quan feels stuck. If he’d actually committed the crime he might accept the deal without hesitation, but he’s already started down the path of telling the truth—so it would be a step backward to continue taking responsibility for a crime he didn’t commit.
Themes
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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, but he’s terrified to wind up in a courtroom. Maybe taking the deal wouldn’t be so bad. He could be out in a decade if he’s good, which is more than he ever expected. Quan asks Justyce for advice. He’s sending this letter with Doc, since he knows Justyce is home from school now. Quan asks that Justyce respond promptly—he hasn’t gotten a response to the last letter yet.
It’s significant that Quan has been diagnosed with clinical anxiety. Just as was the case with his PTSD and panic attacks, now Quan and his support team can come up with coping mechanisms and figure out how to work through the anxiety. The fact that his anxiety grows as he considers taking the plea deal, however, implies that he knows, on some level, that it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s a mark of how much healthier Quan’s relationships are that he’s asking for Justyce’s advice before making a choice. He knows now that he needs support and can’t do this alone.
Themes
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon