August 11, 2021 7:41 AM EDT

Excelling in a predominantly white preparatory high school in Atlanta, Justyce McAllister is bound for success with his aspirations to attend Yale. But Justyce’s academic achievement has not stopped him from being harassed and even handcuffed by the local police. In an attempt to process the racial inequities that surround him, Justyce begins to write letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., asking, “What would Martin do if he were alive?” But no amount of personal reflection can prepare him for the onslaught of bigotry and racial abuse that lies in wait in his community. Nic Stone has said she was inspired to write Dear Martin, her 2017 debut novel, following the 2012 murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was shot after a man confronted Davis over playing music in a car. The book’s earnest examination of enduring racial violence joins other notable works like Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give in helping young readers to process the brutal realities of racism in the U.S. —Peter Allen Clark

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