Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here

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...

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Title:Tyler Johnson Was Here
Author:Jay Coles
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Tyler Johnson Was Here Reviews

  • April (Aprilius Maximus)

    wowowowowowowowowowowowowow

  • Trina (Between Chapters)

    Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Powerful.

    This book deals with topics like police brutality and racism. There is some drug dealing. There are a couple of instances where a parent threatens physical punishment toward their child. Grief is a major theme. If it is harmful to you, you may want to know that the N- word is used, but it is written by a black author and said by a black character and not as an aggression.

    This is compared to

    and yes, they do deal with similar to

    Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Powerful.

    This book deals with topics like police brutality and racism. There is some drug dealing. There are a couple of instances where a parent threatens physical punishment toward their child. Grief is a major theme. If it is harmful to you, you may want to know that the N- word is used, but it is written by a black author and said by a black character and not as an aggression.

    This is compared to

    and yes, they do deal with similar topics. I do think you'd like them both equally, and seriously don't make THUG the only BLM book you read. This one is just as important and is just as GOOD (writing, characters, story).

    I loved the exploration of grief in this book. Although I've never lost someone in this way, the way the character describes his grief is so real and made me cry. There were very accurate statements about how memories and your identity are impacted after losing someone.

    The friendships were another thing I adored. Marvin's friends were loyal. When Marvin withdrew into himself, they gave him the space he needed, never got mad or let it come between them, and came running when he needed them. There was no friend drama here!

    Main character and his family are African American (ownvoices). Side character Ivy is biracial and likes girls. Side character G-mo (Guillermo), is Latinx.

    Narrator JaQwan J. Kelly brought the proper amount of emotion to his reading and made the story that much more powerful. 5 star narration.

  • Emma Giordano

    Review to come!

    CW: racism, police brutality, gang violence, drug use, death/grief

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    A story about police brutality, focused around a boy whose brother is shot by a police officer. And, as I think most of you may have guessed, the shooting occurred unp

    A story about police brutality, focused around a boy whose brother is shot by a police officer. And, as I think most of you may have guessed, the shooting occurred unprovoked.

    I feel as if it's hard to review good issue books. Because

    is undoubtedly important, but with fantastic books about the same topic like

    and

    , I know that many people will skip it. But here's the thing:

    . With excellent characters and a fantastic emotional heart, this book deserves so much more than being written off as generic or not worth the read.

    The main strength of

    is

    With a well-written sense of grief and of empowerment shadowing the book, Coles' writing feels authentic and from-the-heart. Despite not much specific development, each character feels just as true to heart. And to be quite honest,

    If someone told sixth-grade-me that this many books I picked up would have casually sapphic side characters and all-black casts, I would definitely not have believed them. I am so sorry to keep reiterating this, but

    Basically only not a five because it’s very slice-of-lifey and that’s just never going to be my thing. But if brief slice-of-life type books are your thing, and even if they're not?

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  • C.G. Drews

    And I am just a bucket of sad right now...this one hit hard. I'm really glad books like this are getting published (and #ownvoices narratives are so important) so when I say "this is depressing" I don't mean it's something that shouldn't be said!! We need to be told these types of stories again and again until the world changes.

    But seriously I am just 😭😭

    . It is so soft™ and I feel like it

    And I am just a bucket of sad right now...this one hit hard. I'm really glad books like this are getting published (and #ownvoices narratives are so important) so when I say "this is depressing" I don't mean it's something that shouldn't be said!! We need to be told these types of stories again and again until the world changes.

    But seriously I am just 😭😭

    . It is so soft™ and I feel like it's such an important cover because here is are flowers and life and a boy who deserves better and it's just sUCH a good cover.

    And I cannot freaking comprehend how it would be to live like these black teens have to live. Like when Marvin is going to a protest his mother literally says

    ...like not even a phone...so he can't be mistaken for being armed. Look I'm Australian, so this is mind-boggling to me, (not that Australia isn't hella racist, because it is...but at least we don't have gun violence like this). And there's one scene where Marvin and his friends are litearlly at a store BUYING SNACKS and they nearly got shot for "shoplifting". Like wtf, America, what. is. going. on. Even if they were shoplifting (but it was purely assuming they were because they're black and this is so rotten) you do not get shot for that??!??

    I'm glad that's in there. I can imagine this book will be so important to so many black teens (and all types of teens because everyone should be reading books like this!) but just to give encouragement as well as give you room to cry and be angry.

    (Also I LOVE how emotional the characters were!! Marvin cried and he cried a lot and I just !! I think it's important for books to show emotional boys.)

    Which isn't really a negative! I just felt a few times it needed a bit more of a wordsmithing hone but that could just personal taste too. Aaaand I wasn't a super fan of the romance just because, eh??! I felt Faith was a bit one-dimensional and romance in books that deal about really dark/brutal topics always feels a bit thrown in to me. (But I'm a super unromantic person so.)

    I'm glad I read it and got to meet Marvin and take this tumultuous journey with him.😭

  • Malia

    This is a difficult review to write, and I am slightly conflicted. I give Tyler Johnson Was Here four stars, because this book tells an important and sadly all too relevant story. Again and again, we hear the disturbing reports of police brutality, of people being murdered for nothing more than their skin color, or living in a dangerous neighborhood they lack the means to escape. It is shocking and sad and the fact that the plot is based somewhat on the author's real experiences, makes it all th

    This is a difficult review to write, and I am slightly conflicted. I give Tyler Johnson Was Here four stars, because this book tells an important and sadly all too relevant story. Again and again, we hear the disturbing reports of police brutality, of people being murdered for nothing more than their skin color, or living in a dangerous neighborhood they lack the means to escape. It is shocking and sad and the fact that the plot is based somewhat on the author's real experiences, makes it all the more so. I whole-heatedly wish him success in telling his story and spreading his message of awareness. Something has to change, and though I do not know where to begin, talking about it is hopefully a start.

    I grew up in a small town in Germany and was told to trust the police. In German, there is a saying "Die Polizei - dein Freund und Helfer" (the police - your friend and helper) and I lived by this. I was told, if I got lost, or something bad happened, I could turn to the police and they would help me. The notion that I should fear them was utterly foreign to me. The talk Tyler and Marvin's mother has with her boys in this book, about keeping their heads down, about watching out for the police, is one my parents never had to have with my sisters or with me, and I realize how privileged we are for this. Though by now, of course, I know that many people in the US (where I currently live and have for many years), grew up without this thought of the police as a societal safety net. There are many policemen and women, one cannot forget, who are truly good and helpful people, who respect their duty to the community, no matter the color of anyone's skin, or their background. But one cannot ignore that there are also many, whose prejudice has provoked them to cause irreparable damage and rarely face the consequences. To bring attention to this and to encourage a conversation to provoke change and awareness, I think books like Tyler Johnson Was Here are valuable and important, and I hope they are being read and discussed in classrooms.

    There is something visceral, almost intrusive about the way the author confronts the reader with the grief of this broken family, that will force readers of all ages to think. Jay Coles strips away barriers, forcing you to see, feel, hear the pain of loss and to comprehend how utterly senseless violence is. Though the writing was, perhaps, not incredibly polished, and I saw some flaws and oversimplifications in his approach, I can see this author having a promising career ahead of him.

    Now, I know I said I was conflicted about writing this review, and I want to explain. I am happy to rate this book four stars, because it was thought-provoking and told a truly important story. My little niggle is that I could tell this was a debut, by which I mean, I felt the language was a bit immature, some of the ideas not as developed as they could have been, and the writing not its strongest point. I also found it was a little simplistic to make the majority of white people out to be racists and inherently bad (not just the police, but also the MIT rep, who makes it clear Tyler could only get into the school to fill a diversity quota). There is also a scene in which one of Marvin's friends says he hates white people and when his other friend says that he is being racist, too, Marvin reasons that he is only prejudiced, not racist, which I found to be a problematic and unformed dismissal. Generalizing against groups of people based on skin color is not a step forward - as I thought the author was trying to say, so it seemed counter-productive to offer so little nuance. This area of the book could have been given a more consideration. If we want change, we all have to work together. Coles also makes use of a vast number of metaphors and similes, which felt too much at times, but overuse of these is also a bit of a pet peeve for me, so this could simply be a personal issue. The protagonists may be teenagers, but that is also the case in The Hate U Give and Dear Martin, and I was deeply impressed with both. That being said, the author of Tyler Johnson Was Here is very young, only twenty-two, I believe, and for that, this book is definitely quite a feat. And despite slightly unpolished writing at times, and a few under-developed issues, there were many incredibly moving scenes and the author doesn’t shy away from portraying the protagonist‘s emotions in light of what had happened to his family. I wish Jay Coles success in both his writing and activism, and though this book wasn't perfect, it was a solid way to send a message which I hope is heard and inspires change.

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  • Lola

    meets

    .

    3.5 stars. This is

    . Yes, Marvin’s brother, Tyler Johnson, disappears and, yes, Marvin does make it his mission to find him and bring him home, but this situation is dealt with quicker than I had anticipated and it’s clear, in hindsight, that the author re

    meets

    .

    3.5 stars. This is

    . Yes, Marvin’s brother, Tyler Johnson, disappears and, yes, Marvin does make it his mission to find him and bring him home, but this situation is dealt with quicker than I had anticipated and it’s clear, in hindsight, that the author really didn’t mean to focus on the disappearance more than it was necessary to the storyline.

    This story focuses on racial issues in the United States. I could go as far as to say that it’s more of a demonstration of the way black people and racially-diverse people in general are treated by police and school teachers—meaning authority figures—as well as the rest of the population in general. Marvin knows the world he is living in, as his mother made sure he never forgot white people rule it, but he still never expected to witness all that he did and for his life to change so tremendously.

    Marvin is an honest hero. There is nothing he is keeping from up, the readers, making him reliable, unlike his brother who got involved with the wrong crowd. I was glad for his knowledge and understanding, seeing that clueless and naïve characters do not belong in such a novel. Thank goodness there weren’t any, as there is a difference between introducing a problem and exploring it—this author does the latter. He doesn’t simply say that black people are targeted by the police; he shows us how that happens and under which conditions.

    The story is intense—which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it makes you feel so many emotions from happiness to anger, but at the same time there is such a huge amount of police brutality and racism the hero is exposed to in a very short amount of time that it makes me question if Marvin’s experience truly is one hundred percent authentic. But it’s also true that I’m not black, nor am living in the USA, so this is really my own judgement.

    The other thing is the romance. Was it necessary? The love interest is a lovely girl and I’m happy Marvin got something beautiful out of this terrible experience, but I never felt the butterflies in my stomach the hero supposedly did. I’m going to answer my own question: It was not necessary—an extra element that I, personally, could have done without.

    Not bad at all. I hope more stories such as this one become published.

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  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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    Wow, I really wasn't a fan of this one at all and that bums me out, because I was fully expecting to love TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE. Since my feelings about this are so complicated and the subject matter is so delicate, I'm going to list out my thoughts in bullet points. (Bullet points are so much easier!)

    Some thoughts:

    1.

    , the publication of books like THE HATE U GIVE

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    Wow, I really wasn't a fan of this one at all and that bums me out, because I was fully expecting to love TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE. Since my feelings about this are so complicated and the subject matter is so delicate, I'm going to list out my thoughts in bullet points. (Bullet points are so much easier!)

    Some thoughts:

    1.

    , the publication of books like THE HATE U GIVE and TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE not only gives the Black Lives Matter movement more exposure, it puts books featuring kids of color into the hands of actual kids of color with stories that they can relate to (whether in a good or bad way). That's nothing to sneeze at, and I can appreciate the value of books like TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE even if I don't enjoy them.

    2.

    They are very similar stories: two high school kids of color who feel a lot of pressure to "act white" in order to be successful, who live in a low-income/racially diverse area with lots of criminal/gang activity, whose lives are torn apart by police brutality spurred on by racial discrimination that ends up starting a local movement. I don't think the similarity is a bad thing, because like I said before, Black Lives Matter is a movement representing real victims of police brutality, and those narratives are important. But it's my opinion that THE HATE U GIVE is a much better book, and handles the subject matter better.

    3.

    I didn't get much of a sense of who Tyler was, whereas the main character in THUG all but leaped from the pages. I would have liked to have gotten a better sense of his character, because that might have made me like him more. He just felt very bland and passive to me, and I couldn't figure out if that was meant to be intentional or not. His choices, particularly the one at the end involving his future, didn't make sense and seemed to be fueled for the sake of keeping the story moving. All of his friends are very one-note, and his sort-of love interest, when she appears, kind of just feels like the generic manic pixie dreamgirl type.

    4.

    This kind of ties into the third bullet point - all the bad people in this book, like the cops and the mean principal and the well-meaning, but white guilt apologist "I-have-a-diversity-checklist-in-my-back-pocket-and-that-checklist-says-I-must-be-nice-to-you-for-diversity-related-reasons" MIT representative are just hilarious stereotypes of white people being shitty in various shitty ways. That cop, man. What the actual fresh hell was he doing. What a psychopath. I couldn't help but compare the cop scenes in here with the cop scene in THUG, where the cop did what he did because his racism surfaced during a snap decision he made because he was afraid. Here, it was just like the cop decided he was going to be all, "Yaaaaay! Power abuse is fun!"

    I'm glad I was approved for an advance reader copy of this book and I'm sorry I didn't like this more. I see that at least some of my friends on Goodreads really enjoyed this book, so maybe you will, too.

    1.5 to 2 stars

  • ✨    jamieson   ✨

    THIS COVER

    i love that ya puts soft black boys on their covers now

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