There are a lot of great YA novels out there like Dear Martin, by Nic Stone, and you want to read more. For your benefit, there are a few excellent books like Dear Martin available.
First-time novelist Nic Stone’s Dear Martinis was inspired in part by the fact that she is a mother raising two Black sons in the United States. It doesn’t matter that Justyce McAllister is an excellent student who is aiming for the Ivy League when a police officer places her in handcuffs. It makes no difference who Justyce really is. In the end, only his appearance and skin color matter. Justyce turns to Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings in search of answers and hope. Using letters written by Justyce to King, the novel tells King’s story.
Dear Martin takes a sobering look at the nation’s racial divide and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as it relates to today’s African-American community. Nic Stone’s novel cannot be compared to any of these, but they should all help to fill the void left by Dear Martin in some way.
Dear Justyce by Nic Stone
Let’s start with the obvious one. If Dear Martinis 2 isn’t already on your radar, now is the time to add it to your list of must-reads. When it comes to the American prison system, this book takes a sobering look. In this book, an imprisoned adolescent, Quan, writes letters to Dear Martin’s protagonist, Justyce, detailing his ordeals while behind bars. On the 6th of October 2020, Stone’s latest album will be released. Take a look at some of the other titles on this list while you’re waiting.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Shawn, Shawn’s 15-year-old brother, was murdered in this New York Times bestseller, and Will is now on a mission of revenge. He’s armed with his brother’s gun and ready to exact revenge on whoever shot and killed his brother. He’ll learn more about his brother and his story as the elevator descends, but he won’t know it until he arrives at the final destination. Beautifully written in verse, this story is a must-read.
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
For the purpose of keeping an eye on Marvin Johnson’s younger brother Tyler, he attends a party with Tyler. However, a seemingly innocuous gathering quickly degenerates into an all-out police assault. As soon as Tyler goes missing the following day, Marvin is on the hunt for answers. In the end, a police officer fatally shot Tyler, as revealed in a video leaked online. Marvin has to deal with the loss of his twin brother, Tyler, while also becoming the face of a movement.
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
Moss Jefferies, a high school sophomore, recently lost a loved one. Six years ago, a police officer assassinated Moss’s father, and Moss has struggled ever since with the grief of losing a parent and the negative portrayal of his father in the media. As a result of the presence of officers from the Oakland Police Department in the hallways of Mos’s high school, Mos feels more like a prisoner than a student. As a result, Moss and his classmates have formed a group to oppose the administration.
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
It’s a story about two high school girls, Campbell and Lena, who don’t get along and aren’t even close to being best friends. When the two girls go to a high school football game, they don’t expect it to devolve into a riot. When a race-related dispute escalates into violence, these two girls must learn to rely on one another in order to survive.
Let me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
The year is 1998, and the setting is Brooklyn. Because their best friend Steph was murdered, Quadir and Jarrell have decided that his music does not have to die with him. In order to spread the word about Steph’s rap music, they devise a scheme involving Steph’s younger sister Jasmine. Despite their best efforts, the three teenagers are confronted with the truth about what happened to their friend as they go deeper into their ruse.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Non-YA books make up the second half of this list. Middle-grade fiction is the genre of this first book. When a police officer mistook Jerome’s toy gun for a real one, he shot the 12-year-old. He sees the impact of his death on his family and his community when he returns as a ghost. Later, Emmett Till appears to Jerome, a different ghost from a different era who died in a similar manner. Together, they examine how Jerome’s death may have been caused by historical racism.
March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
A graphic novel series about John Lewis’s lifelong fight for civil and human rights is March, a three-book graphic novel series that compares our current situation to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s. Lewis’s childhood in rural Alabama, his meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., the creation of the Nashville Student Movement, and the movement’s fight against segregation are all covered in the first book in the series.
On the Other Side of Freedom by Deray McKessen
A civil rights activist and the host of the podcast Pod Save the People has written a memoir about his experiences.
In his debut book, McKessen explores the protests that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, the persistence of racial injustice in our modern world, and the ways in which technological advancements and other contemporary innovations have sparked widespread social change. We will be better prepared to fight against oppression once we understand its nature, he claims.
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
An Oakland high school student couple who would have never met had it not been for the 57 Bus tell their true story. As they rode the bus to their very different schools each day, Sasha, a white high school student, would pass Richard, an African-American, who attended a public school in a high-crime area, for about eight minutes each day. Sasha’s life was never the same again after a single reckless act on the school bus left her severely burned. Richard is suddenly facing life in prison after being accused of two hate crimes. Both teens were thrust into the limelight for very different reasons after the events on the bus.
They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
The harsh and unrelenting examination of contemporary race relations in the United States is a common theme in many of these stories. “They Can’t Kill Us All” examines the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray by police brutality, as well as the protests that sprang up in their wake. Over the course of a year, Wesley Lowery interviewed hundreds of people for the Washington Post. Then he returned to Ferguson, where he had previously reported from Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland. Lowery talked to members of the victims’ families as well as community activists. As a result, Lowery discovered what life is like for those living in the most heavily policed areas of America.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
There’s a good chance you’ve seen or heard of this title before thanks to the Michael B. Jordan-led Just Mercy movie. A true story of Bryan Stevenson’s founding of the Equal Justice Initiative, a law firm dedicated to representing the most vulnerable members of society, is told in his book Just Mercy. The Equal Justice Initiative’s mission is to fight for those who are most frequently misrepresented: the poor and the wrongly convicted.