Talk about relevant. Nic Stone managed to write a poignant novel that was not too heavy but light enough to enjoy the story. How she struck that balance is beyond me. There are a few things I want to get into about this book, so let's get started.
As a young Afro-Caribbean woman, Jamaican to be exact, this story strikes a few familiar cords. It brings to the fore, some of the injustices that persons of African descent face. Stone didn't carefully remove the veil but she simply ripped it off in a 'wow-that-didn't-hurt-the-way-I-thought-it-would-but-now-the-wound-is-exposed' kind of way. The struggles that Justyce faced even though he was a Yale bound student, was that he was a young black male. It could resonate with not only young black men but young black women , people from poor backgrounds and other minorities. The issues of racism, classism and interracial relationship were nicely highlighted. These are things that can be touchy topics but Stone so boldly lets it hang out.
From the beginning we know that it wasn't going to be a road well travelled but one less ventured . In a time such as this, where hashtags such as #BlackGirlMagic, #BlackBoyJoy and #BlackExcellence are now frequenting social media , Stone decided to mix that in with #BlackLivesMatter. Everything started to go 'left' for Justyce after his unlawful arrest. This prompted him to go on a journey to understand the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He begins a one sided dialogue by writing letters in a journal addressed to Dr. King about his experiences and his experiment to see if he could embody Dr. King's beliefs, stance and his possible responses. Justyce's eyes are opened and he in turn enlightens those around him to the racial imbalance.
Needless to say classism comes into play. Stone frames it in a way that you have to see it for what it is. Manny's family is not accepted but rather tolerated because they worked twice as hard as their white colleagues and over time amassed wealth and status. But of course are reminded , that they are still viewed as inferior. Manny's dad gave the boys that litte nugget, when he told them about overhearing a young white male use a derogatory term in reference to him. Being who he is, he didn't retaliate but instead chose to 'kill him with kindness'.
Nic Stone gives this story depth by adding an interracial relationship then flipped the script. The version that is not shown a lot where "Mama says, 'Don't bring no white girl home.' " Yes, I'm speaking of Justyce and SJ' s relationship. There are individuals who are colour blind when it comes to love and there are others who aren't. SJ stood by Justyce throughout the journey of the story. She was always vocal about the racial injustices and not being content to turn a blind eye like many do. Somehow, she and Justyce found a place to love each other amidst the chaos of racism. Could this validate the phrase, "Love conquers all."? It was somewhat painfully obvious that both weren't exactly prepared for it as Justyce went with Mel when faced with the choice ; SJ turned him down at a very special turning point of their relationship. Eventually, they were able to see each other inspite of.
It was sad that it took the death of Manny, along with other 'background characters' for the issue of racism to become real to some. Others really didn't change. This is an unfortunate yet authentic reflection of what is happening in the world today. As I said, "Talk about relevant." Nic Stone touched on issues with such finesse that allows the reader to get into the story, get to know the characters and face the issues in the story and in real life.
I loved the daring authenticity, the depth and the message of this book. Kudos to Nic Stone who went there.
I give this relevant and well written book a 4.5 stars out of 5.
#BlackExcellence #BlackGirlMagic #BlackBoyJoy #BlackLivesMatter
Hello, I'm Tammy and I love books! I love writing and reading them. I love them so much I just can't stop talking about them.