Author Spotlight: Nic Stone

11 Min Read
Crown Books for Young Readers

Nic Stone, a New York Times bestselling author, will grace our bookshelves once again with her upcoming novel Jackpot. In anticipation of Jackpot’s release, we decided it was only fitting to shine a spotlight on Nic Stone and her work.

About the author:

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 adorable little family on most social media platforms.

Design by Angela Carlino, Image Courtesy of Nic Stone

Dear Martin focuses on Justyce McAllister, a model student who’s debate team captain, top of his class, and headed to the Ivy Leagues for college – until he finds himself in handcuffs for trying to help a friend. Though he’s eventually released without charges, he’s rattled by the incident. Justyce begins to write letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of an experiment he’s doing called “be like Martin,” and as his way of trying to cope with what happened. Then, when Justyce and his best friend Manny are driving and listening to music with the volume turned up, they’re caught in the crossfire of a white, off-duty cop furious at their “disturbance.” Justyce soon finds himself under attack in the media — despite being the victim — and must face the reality of the social injustices plaguing the country.

It would be an understatement to say that Dear Martin is an important book. It offers important commentary about the current state of race relations in our country, while offering a viewpoint that allows readers to try and better understand ordeals they may not have ever had to experience. Justyce’s story is heart-wrenching and necessary. Stone’s decision to tell the story in third person bolsters the impact of Justyce’s story, creating a powerful feeling of helplessness on the reader’s end, as well as further cementing its undeniable truth.

My main reaction to Dear Martin was immense frustration, which was exactly the point. I was frustrated with the unfair treatment Justyce had to endure throughout, from both people he knew personally and people he never met. I wanted to yell (and occasionally did) at the characters who spoke with ignorance and often didn’t try to understand Justyce or why their viewpoint was ignorant. Part of that frustration stemmed from the specific story itself, but also from realizing it also comes from real issues that permeate our lives. Dear Martin was just as much a mirror as it was a work of fiction.

There is a lot to unpack in Dear Martin, and I could write an entire book about this book. It has a multitude of takeaways that will always remain important and relevant. Dear Martin should be mandatory reading. Not only does Stone include necessary themes and ideas, she brought an excellent story to life through her dynamic characters. Dear Martin has a unique and wonderful voice, and it’s impossible to put down. It was a terrific and powerful debut from Stone.

Design by Angela Carlino, Image Courtesy of Nic Stone

“For all the people who just don’t know.”

For years, it’s always been Jupiter Charity-Sanchez and Courtney Cooper — “Jupe-and-Coop.” That is until Rae, the new girl in school, enters the picture. Coop becomes jealous of Rae and Jupiter’s friendship, but the two eventually find their own rhythm. Rae finds the comfort of home with the duo, and soon develops crushes on both of them, surprising herself with her newfound feelings. And Jupiter fears losing Rae to boy; a boy who happens to be her best friend, and it would mean losing him, too.

Odd One Out is separated into three sections, each one told from the point of view of Coop, Jupiter, and Rae. Each section brings us into the minds of the three main characters, offering different perspectives on what’s ultimately the same story. Each section helped add to the complexity of the story, while maintaining its readability. It was interesting learning the trio’s individual thought processes, and discovering how similar they are to each other despite their differences. Each section also helped build layers to the story and keep it engaging.

Odd One Out is an absolute gem. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I wanted to learn everything about Jupiter, Coop, and Rae – and quite frankly, wanted to be friends with them. I loved the way they worked as a trio and how they worked as pairs within the trio. Their relationships with each other and the other characters was wholesome and always felt authentic. I appreciated how the characters, Jupiter especially, learned to become more open-minded to different ideas about themselves, regardless of how unflinching their original viewpoints may have been. Even when their friendships faltered, they still supported one another as best they could.

Overall, it was an excellent story that provides validation to those who may still be working through their feelings. Stone brings a powerhouse cast of diverse characters to life. The multiple POVs from Jupiter, Coop, and Rae help tell a rounded and compelling story. It’s uplifting, emotional, charming, honest, and — in the spirit of honesty — a breath of fresh air from the gut-wrenching Dear Martin. Stone truly knocked it out of the park again with Odd One Out. No doubt she will do the same with Jackpot.

Image Courtesy of Nic Stone

In Jackpot, Stone “creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money — both too little and too much — and how you make your own luck in the world.” Check out the summary below:

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?

An excerpt of of Jackpot is currently available to read through Bustle.

Beyond her writing, Nic Stone is someone I admire in general. I love the enthusiasm and support she shares on social media for other books and authors. Her excitement about her own upcoming books is contagious, and she’s not afraid to unleash her inner fangirl. She also uses her platform (social media and books) to promote diversity and bring attention to others who do the same.

Stone is also friendly towards her readers, something I can personally attest to. During BookCon in 2018, my friend and I bumped into her before a panel. She graciously gave us a few minutes of her time to let us tell her how we loved Dear Martin, even though it made us angry (to which she responded “me too”), nerd out with us about other authors, and take a couple photos. She was so patient and kind, and that’s not something we’ll forget anytime soon. When she does school visits or other events, I always hear about how wonderful she was with students and everyone else in attendance.

Stone has confirmed a sequel to Dear Martin is coming and will be titled Dear Justyce. She will also release two more books next year: Clean Getaway, a middle-grade novel set to release January 7, 2020 and Shuri, a middle-grade novel that will focus on the Black Panther character, set for a summer 2020 release.

Follow Nic Stone on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with her latest life and book updates (trust me, you won’t regret it).

Stone will also be on tour for Jackpot’s release! You can find her tour dates and other information here. Jackpot releases October 15. You can pre-order it through Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Amazon.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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