Welcome to the inaugural CYBILS Awards Book Playlist. If you love listening to music as you read, these posts are for you! Each post pairs a curated Spotify playlist with one CYBILS Awards finalist or winner. If you have a playlist request, be sure to drop us a line at cybilsawards [at] gmail [dot] com.

DEAR JUSTYCE: A NOVEL (Dear Martin #2)

By Nic Stone

Crown Books for Young Readers

Finalist – Young Adult Fiction
2020 CYBILS Awards

The Book

Young Adult
Contemporary, Race, Realistic Fiction, Social Justice

Nic Stone’s Dear Justyce is a companion novel to her powerful Dear Martin. This is Quan’s story. After being involved in a police shooting, Quan spends much of Dear Justyce in jail. As he awaits trial, Quan begins to reflect on what happened to him and so many others: “We find the families we were desperate for and learn different ways of going about things. Ways that sometimes land us in places/positions we don’t really wanna be in.” 

In some ways, Dear Justyce is an even stronger novel than its predecessor. Readers do not need familiarity with Dear Martin to experience Dear Justyce fully. The plots do not depend on each other, and understanding the recurring characters is not dependent on the previous book. In fact, reading them in reverse order might lead readers to insights on Dear Martin that wouldn’t be possible if it were read first. With Dear Justyce, Nic Stone further confirms her role as a leading creative force in today’s young adult literature.

Blurb by Gary Anderson, What’s Not Wrong?


The Music

Dear Justyce pairs themes of racism and injustice with police brutality and drug addiction. Quan, the main character, is confronted by all these issues at a young age. The songs in this playlist reflect these harsh issues and include an inspirational twist that parallels the perseverance and grit of Justyce and Quan as they try to set things right.

The Girl

Riya Fernando

Riya is thrilled to be able to combine two of her favorite things: books and music. She is an avid reader who can often be found with her nose in a murder mystery while listening to contemporary piano music, her favorite genre of piano music to listen to and play. She was introduced to CYBILS Awards through her mother, Category Chair and CYBILS Awards Board Member, who helped Riya cultivate her love for books. She hopes that others will love these playlists as much as she does!