Dear Martin

Dear Martin

Dear Martin Study Guide

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

Brief Biography of Nic Stone

Nic Stone grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia in 1985. She attended Spelman College, earning a degree in psychology. During a self-professed “identity crisis” when she was 23, she took a trip to Israel, where she met soldiers, militants, refugees, and families from both Palestinian and Israeli cultures. On this trip, she realized she wanted to be a writer, since she was so compelled by the stories she heard. As a result, she began writing Young Adult fiction, especially focusing on narratives that address identity and belonging, issues she herself struggled with as one of the only African American girls in her high school’s accelerated programs. Her debut novel, Dear Martin, was published in 2017 and became a New York Times Bestseller. In the following two years, she published Odd One Out and Jackpot, and has continued to publish essays and short stories.
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Historical Context of Dear Martin

Dear Martin is based in part on the death of Jordan Davis, a seventeen-year-old black boy who was shot and killed by a white man in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012. Davis and his friends were listening to loud hip-hop at a gas station when an armed white man parked next to them and instructed them to turn down the music. One of Davis’s friends listened to the man, but Davis asked that the music be turned back up, at which point the man was heard saying, “You aren’t going to talk to me like that.” He then took out a pistol and started shooting at Davis and his friends, killing Davis. The shooter was found guilty on three counts of attempted murder, but not on murder in the first degree. The judge declared a mistrial regarding this final count, and the shooter was finally found guilty of first-degree murder in his retrial, where he earned a life sentence in prison without parole, in addition to another 90 years. It’s also worth mentioning that Nic Stone was moved to write Dear Martin as a reaction to a number of other instances of racist police brutality, including the shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. in 2014.

Other Books Related to Dear Martin

Dear Martin is similar to Angie Thomas’s novel The Hate U Give, which is also about a black teenager from an impoverished neighborhood attending a prestigious and mostly white private high school. Like Justyce, the protagonist of The Hate U Give witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her best friend. Similarly, Jason Reynold and Brendan Kiely’s co-authored novel, All American Boys, explores racism, police brutality, and stereotyping. In addition to these titles, Dear Martin is related to a number of other Young Adult novels inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, including Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down and Jay Coles’s Tyler Johnson Was Here.
Key Facts about Dear Martin
  • Full Title: Dear Martin
  • When Published: October 17, 2017
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Epistolary Novel, Young Adult Fiction
  • Setting: The suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia
  • Climax: An off-duty police officer shoots Manny and Justyce after they refuse to turn down their music, killing Manny and injuring Justyce.
  • Antagonist: Officer Castillo and Officer Tison
  • Point of View: The novel alternates between third-person and first-person narration.

Extra Credit for Dear Martin

Sequel. A follow-up to Dear Martin is coming out in 2020. The novel is called Dear Justyce and will follow Quan Banks, another character from the original story.

Father. Nic Stone’s father was a police officer. She has said that she always saw the police as “heroes,” which is why she was especially unsettled by the deaths of people like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Jr., both of whom were unarmed when they were shot and killed by police officers.