Monday, March 5, 2018

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Tyler Johnson Was Here
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 304 Pages
Format: ARC
Source: From from Publisher
Reason: For honest review
Find the Author: Goodreads
Buy the Book: Amazon CA | Amazon

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.


Tyler Johnson Was Here is a very relevant story. You can't turn on the news in today's world without seeing another horrible story about a person being harassed, assaulted or even murdered by a person of the law. It truly is horrific and an abuse of power. 

Jay Coles has proven to be a natural at his craft. This is his debut novel and it was a spectacular one. His passion for the Black Lives Matter movement and his will to speak out against police brutality is bold and leaps off the pages. His conviction is strong. This all translates into his main character, Marvin. A teenage boy that is missing his father, who is serving a sentence for a crime he didn't commit, and fighting against the discrimination in his school system. Marvin has a twin brother but that is mostly where their similarities lie. Tyler tends to dabble with a different crowd while Marvin is perfectly content to stay home and watch A Different World or listen to Tupac. 

The character cast is small and intimate in this novel. While Marvin is the main character and narrative, there is only a small secondary cast behind him. They were all very well-written and each added their own depth that made the story a complete package. 

The one thing that felt out of place for me was the romance aspect of the novel. It just never clicked for me or seemed to come together. Maybe if the romance was already sparking prior to Tyler's disappearance, I may have felt different, but with it unfolding during the chaos of everything, it just felt odd to me. But, that was such a minor complaint and it did not take away from my over all reading experience. 

The cover art for Tyler Johnson Was Here is just absolutely stunning. It is so inviting and I think it will attract a lot of young readers to pick it up wanting to learn more about it. 

I am so glad that novels like this are starting to hit shelves because, fiction or not, they are relevant accounts of a big problem in the world today. Anyone in a uniform, any authority of the law should be someone we trust, not someone that should be feared. The thought that you have to worry about just walking down the street is terrifying.  Tyler Johnson Was Here shines a bright light on the ugliness that is faced in many communities not only in America, but around the world. I look forward to reading any future work from Jay Coles. 

"I don't know what, but I know that in this very moment I'm starting to really hate myself, really feel sorry for myself, because I've been black for too long, because of the words that come to mind when people see me" -Marvin Johnson
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