#Review 5* Dear Martin by @getnicced Nic Stone #YA @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease

Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack

My Review:

Nic Stone may write fiction, but she certainly tells no lies! This is a powerful debut novel! The author holds nothing back and the novel offers you the opportunity to see life, through the lies of another, and that person is protagonist Justyce Mcallister!

As a white British woman of 34 years old. It is difficult to imagine the daily life and struggles of a 17-year-old African American teen. When you factor in the racial tensions, constantly bubbling in America and the case after case of police brutality. It becomes quite clear that Justyce and I lead very different lives.
But that is the hidden beauty of this novel, it enables the reader to walk in Justyce’s shoes.
Even if it is for just 200 pages.

The novel opens with Justyce and his ex-girlfriend Melo Taylor, as Justyce attempts to prevent her from drink driving. Melo is of mixed race heritage, but due to her mother’s Norwegian pale skin tone, can easily pass as white. When an officer of the law arrives at the scene, he is promptly judge, jury and executer of his own brand of justice.
Justyce finds himself cuffed, manhandled and treated with zero respect and dignity. But it is only when I read his thoughts as the scene unfounded, that I fully understood life from Justyce’s perspective……………….

Be respectful; keep the anger in check; make sure the police can see your hands.

Justyce is eventually cleared of all wrong-doing, but with no apology, the experience has planted a seed of how Justyce’s feel he is perceived in the world. Do people see a thug when they see him? Does his skin colour automatically, make him a likely criminal? Is he expected to be one of the many cases of young black men shot dead unlawfully?

The self-questioning and doubt lead Justyce to begin a diary to Dr Martin Luther King. It is in these letters entitled ‘Dear Martin’ that Justyce pours out his heart and soul!
The letters are incredibly moving and the writing profound. Justyce is an intelligent young man, but he also has an emotional maturity, that we see develop throughout the novel.

“Dear Martin, there are people that don’t see a man with rights when they look at me”

Justyce begins to explore other people’s attitudes and approaches to debates of race/culture. This includes class mates, teachers, best friend Manny and debate partner SJ (Sarah Jane).
SJ is quite an interesting character herself, a young white Jewish girl. Who is wise beyond her years! SJ has opinions on race/identity/privilege, that could put world leaders to shame!

There is a wide mixture of teens from all walks of life, included within the novel. Which is what makes the novel so great! Nic Stone hasn’t just considered one voice; she has written a magnitude of voices to be heard.
At times the novel made for uncomfortable reading. But so it should, racism is uncomfortable for everybody it makes a victim of. This novel could be an extremely useful tool within educational settings. To allow young adults to debate the themes within the novel and maybe learn a little of their own inner hidden prejudices!

“People often learn more from getting an undeserved free pass than they would from being punished”

I don’t want to review the novel too much and risk ruining this thought-provoking novel. At just 200 pages it is an easy read for young adults. I think the topic of BAME youth in education settings is at crisis point and this novel can shine a light on the how/why this situation developed in the first place.

“If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

I cannot speak on the race issue, from personal experience. But as a mother of two sons and as a fellow human. I am horrified at seeing young men either growing up way too soon, or being the victims of police brutality and even murder!
A compelling read by a very talented writer, who has a bright future ahead of her! 5*

Nic Stone
Author Bio:
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.

Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced

Q&A with Hibo Wardere, a true inspiration to women!

Firstly, let me say, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. I know you are very busy with your work as a spokeswoman and I really do appreciate your time. I also want to say thank you for your book, it is such an important read and one that is so important for women everywhere. I admire your bravery, courage & passion to protect other women.

Q) After reading such a book, readers will instantly be left with a feeling of ‘what can I do’ ‘how can I help’ is there any organisations, registry’s or a campaign, readers can join to show their support to end the practice of FGM?

A) There are lots of Organisations like. Orchid Project, 28thtoomany , you can also write about it if you are blogger or writer, if you work with families you need to ask to get trained and get knowledge on FGM, You get involved in supporting the work campaigners like me do too , I am on Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn,

 Q) In my review I talk about education & the legal system. What do you think are the fundamentals in preventing FGM both in the UK and overseas?

First I do believe knowledge is freedom and I do think communities themselves need to be educated about fgm, we also need to tackle it from the roots of it which going deep into the communities in self, educate men and boys, educate the whole world, enforce the law and educate at the same same both has to go hand in hand

 Q) In your story Yusef is an integral part of you becoming the woman you do. How can we encourage men to follow in his footsteps and support other women & aid the prevention of FGM?

A) Men have massive role to play in this fight, we are damaged beyond words because they were keeping us virgins for them, they need to take responsibility in that, education them is the key to it, they actually don’t have the full facts about FGM. Some even don’t know how vagina should look like

 Q) Huge respect to your bravery & ability to overcome adversity. As I don’t know all the followers of my blog/pages personally. What message would you send to victims effected by FGM & oppression? Where can they get help?

A) Fgm is human issue and women issue is human issue, this is happening to innocent children, children are universal they belong to you and me; children are without Boarders, Race or Religion. This violence that is gender and honour based one, its pure violence against women and girls, its cruel medieval practice that has base in our universe today; it’s deigned to control women and girls sexuality. We were not seen as girls as individual we were seen as possession that belonged to your father now you are going to belong to your future husband, you were invincible that is how I felt. Where was me , when do I ever get to make decision about my life , what is the point to exist , that is how I felt , FGM is heinous cat of crime fight it ,

*huge thanks to Hibo Wardere for being part of a Q&A on my blog.

@hibowardere -Twitter

Orchid project: https://orchidproject.org/

28thtoomany: http://28toomany.org/



Non-Fiction Review: Cut by Hibo Wardere 5*

I often read non-fiction titles & originally picked this as my Women’s History Month pick. I had studied Female genital mutilation as part of my degree in health & social care but nothing could prepare me for this read!
Hibo Wardere has courageously written about her own experiences of FGM from childhood through to becoming a spokeswoman & activist. The book is backed up with facts & statements from others affected by FGM. It is an incredible read & Hibo truly is an inspirational feminist whom I fully admire. I read this book in 3 hours straight! I could not take my eyes from the pages!

I want to be clear from the get go, I will not ever use my blog to condemn religion/religious practices or culture. I will however use it as a platform to condemn abusive practices that are leaving women mutilated! But please read on for further explanation.


Cut by Hibo Wardere 5*

The synopsis:

Imagine for a moment that you are 6-years-old and you are woken in the early hours, bathed and then dressed in rags before being led down to an ominous looking tent at the end of your garden. And there, you are subjected to the cruellest cut, ordered by your own mother.
Forced down on a bed, her legs held apart, Hibo Warderewas made to undergo female genital cutting, a process so brutal, she nearly died.
As a teenager she moved to London in the shadow of the Somalian Civil War where she quickly learnt the procedure she had undergone in her home country was not ‘normal’ in the west. She embarked on a journey to understand FGM and its roots, whilst raising her own family and dealing with the devastating consequences of the cutting in her own life. Today Hibo finds herself working in London as an FGM campaigner, helping young girls whose families plan to take them abroad for the procedure. She has vowed to devote herself to the campaign against FGM.

Eloquent and searingly honest, this is Hibo’s memoir which promises not only to tell her remarkable story but also to shed light on a medieval practice that’s being carried out in the 21stcentury, right on our doorstep. FGM in the UK has gone undocumented for too long and now that’s going to change. Devastating, empowering and informative, this book brings to life a clash of cultures at the heart of contemporary society and shows how female genital mutilation is a very British problem.

My Review/Thoughts:

We begin with Hibo as a young girl in Somalia before her ‘gudnin’ circumcision. Hibo herself expresses that she had a loving mother, one whom she loved more than anything else in the whole world. But it would be this mother that would go on to betray her in the worst way possible. Hibo retells her experience of circumcision, being paralysed with fear & living in a culture where FGM is not only acceptable, but the norm. We then read the shocking moments Hibo recounts being cut at just 6 years old! *At this moment I had tears in my eyes & felt anger on her behalf but I was determined to read her story.

Chapter one jumps forward in time and we meet Hibo now 24 years old, a mother of one and living in Britain. Shockingly she is only now discovering what FGM is and that it is not done in Britain. She is living with the discomfort, recurrent infections & pain of the procedure daily. Hibo expands to explain that there are 4 types of FGM. That it is prevalent in 29 countries globally and how some young girl are dying from haemorrhaging, infection or shock. Hibo further goes on to state FGM is NOT a religious practice, FGM predates religion even to the era of ancient Egypt. She also states it has links to the Victorian era where it was used as a form of control to stem a female’s sexual desire & ‘tame’ her! Do we as a society really want to embrace such a barbaric practice? Do we want to live within a culture where women must be broken to be controlled? Why are women valued do low? Why is men’s sexuality so much more dominant even in western Britain?

Hibo states how FGM is a British problem, many people migrate here from cultures where to have a ‘Kintir’ clitoris is still considered unclean, dirty & even cowardly! It can be a male/female divided culture. A culture where the first menstrual cycle is not considered a ‘coming of age’ moment but a cause for celebration. Hiob’s own mother linked FGM to purity & it is in this moment she became a figure of hatred for Hibo. It is clear to me with every page, that education is key!

We are navigated back to Hibo’s story and she tells us of her cousin Fatima’s experiences from the cut to her wedding night. It is a heart-breaking story of a strong willed woman broken by FGM. It’s similar painful to read that prior to her ‘Gudnin’ Hibo felt more loved than she ever had in her own life. The timeline shifts again and it tells the story of Hibo leaving Africa for London at 18 years old. She begins living in a hostel with a translator who refuses to help her. She is determined to get surgery to correct her scars. But this is a young woman who doesn’t speak the language & prior to arriving in Britain had never spoken to males before!

At this point Hibo’s story takes a huge turn for the better! Hibo meets Yusuf, she is fascinated by his caring manner & the way in which he speaks to her. Hibo is falling in love! The story now changed in its dynamic to one of love, hope and overcoming adversity in whatever form it maybe. It isn’t long before Hibo is married & pregnant, the moments she recounts learning English while reading her son story books from the library, really melted by heart. It also made me root for her & her families future.

Hibo’s mother moves to the UK & there is a strained relationship. Hibo’s family is now growing large in number. She is constantly afraid if she has a daughter her mother or Yusuf’s family will insist on the girl being cut. Something she & Yusuf refuse to do! Eventually she forgives her mother & they begin to rebuild their relationship. Hibo is a dedicated & loving mother who bends over backwards to support her children in any way she can. She is not going to repeat the mistakes & brutality of her childhood on her own children. Yusuf comes across as such a supportive & caring husband and I for one, am glad that Hibo has known such love in her life.

As Hibo learns more & more about FGM, that it is not a religious command but a choice & that religion is being wrongly used to abuse children. We read how she develops into an activist. Hibo seeks to empower other women, she will not follow other people who look the other way. Aware that FGM is a practice shrouded in secrecy. Hibo begins speaking to other women, reaching out, educating and empowering. We must remember that for some women it is a rite of passage and they do not know any different. Which is why Hibo’s voice is so important. Hibo speaks at Oxford University to an audience of professionals. She speaks of the facts, that women who refuse to repeat FGM on their own children are shunned from their communities. That the stigma, social exclusion & criticism can be overwhelming.

Hibo states many statistics in the book and it would be impossible to quote them all in this review. Also I hope this review inspires people to read the book and educate themselves on the facts themselves. But I did find some quite surprising, in Ghana 97% of women want to end the practice of FGM. Sierra Leone has implemented a zero tolerance policy, where a girl cannot attend school if she has been cut. This may seem extreme but I can see the need for strict controls/policy surrounding this issue. Unlike in Britain, FGM is illegal here and with 21/1000 female victims of FGM. You would think Britain would want to send a clear message. Hibo informs us that the police have dealt with many cases but the crown prosecution service refuses to take the cases further. She does explain how it can be difficult to prosecute but also the factors that impact the legal system. Telling the case of Sayfiya who’s middle class parenting & British citizenship would ensure no conviction would be brought. This is a frightening show of a class/culture divide in a society where the law stands for everyone!

Hibo has kindly agreed to a Q&A with me for my blog and I have a list of questions relating to FGM, women/men in society, what readers can do and feminism. I only wish this Q&A could be in person so I could meet this amazing lady! I sincerely hope she is honoured by our government for all her hard work & passion to protect other women & young girls.