Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Dear Justyce, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Choices vs. Fate

Dear Justyce follows an African American teenager named Quan, charting his trajectory from a gifted student to a gang member and a criminal who’s incarcerated for shooting a police officer. The novel mostly takes the form of flashbacks charting how Quan ended up in this place, interspersed with letters that Quan writes to his friend Justyce. The two friends had similar upbringings as Black boys in a poor Atlanta neighborhood, but while Quan…

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Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up

Quan is only 13 years old when he’s arrested for the first time, and he’s 16 when he confesses to shooting a white police officer (a crime, readers later find out, he didn’t actually commit). Throughout the novel, Nic Stone goes to great lengths to make sure that readers understand that Quan, his peers in the Black Jihad gang, and the vast majority of other characters in Dear Justyce are children, not adults, and should…

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Identity, Support, and Community

As Quan embarks on his letter-writing project to Justyce, he becomes increasingly interested in questioning his personal identity. With prodding from Justyce, his counselor Tay, and his tutor Doc, Quan—who’s in prison after shooting a cop—begins to grapple with whether or not he’s a killer and a bad person, or whether he’s a victim of a racist system that guarantees his failure. Overwhelmingly, the book suggests that for a young person like…

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Family, Loyalty, and Belonging

It’s a major turning point for Quan when he joins the local gang known as the Black Jihad. The gang offers Quan something he hasn’t experienced before: a sense of belonging and the knowledge that, no matter what happens, someone will always be there to come to his rescue. By comparing Quan’s experiences with his biological family and those with his chosen family members in Black Jihad, the book shows how dangerous or unreliable family…

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Survival, Poverty, and Violence

While Nic Stone criticizes the school and justice systems in Dear Justyce, she also makes the case that it’s not just the school, prison, and legal systems that are to blame for Quan’s failure to succeed by doing well in school, attending college, and landing a job. Rather, these systems exacerbate existing issues that Quan faces, such as growing up in poverty and being surrounded by domestic violence. With this, the novel proposes…

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