Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here

by Jay Coles


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A young man searches for answers after the death of his brother at the hands of police in this striking debut novel, for readers of The Hate U Give.

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 powerful and moving portrait of youth and family that speaks to the serious issues of today—from gun control to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316472180
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 79,002
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Jay Coles is a graduate of Vincennes University and Ball State University. When he's not writing diverse books, he's advocating for them, teaching middle school students, and composing for various music publishers. His debut novel Tyler Johnson Was Here is based on true events in his life and inspired by police brutality in America. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, and invites you to visit his website at jaycoleswrites.com.

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Tyler Johnson Was Here 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
18876111 More than 1 year ago
CW: Racism, death, violence, police brutality. Like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, this is such an important book and definitely needs to be read. The content of the book is so relevant. The book really makes you think about things and put them into perspective.
JLAustin More than 1 year ago
TJWH is a necessary book that will rip you apart and make you look at the world differently. It's one of those stories I think all teens should read, especially now. While it is heartrending and painful, it's also beautiful and hopeful, and you will be a different person at the end of it.
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
Wow. Heartbreaking, relevant, and so, so important. I absolutely loved the main character, Marvin. He's smart and kind and so driven to succeed, even when his whole world is crumbling down around him. I loved his relationships with his friends and his brother, Tyler, and the decisions he made throughout the novel, as well as his inner monologue. The writing is fantastic, and I can't recommend this one enough.
penpapersalt More than 1 year ago
Every so often, I am blessed to experience a book that is truly a contemporary classic: both undeniably relevant and timeless. Tyler Johnson Was Here is one of those rare gems. Jay Coles - a fellow Ball State alum, chirp chirp! - based the events of Tyler Johnson Was Here on his own childhood experiences. It's narrated by Marvin Johnson, a black teen from Sterling Point, whose twin brother Tyler is shot and killed by a white police officer. Tyler is unarmed; the shooting is unprovoked. If you've been even remotely present in America recently, this scenario should be familiar to you. And it should haunt you with its familiarity. If you've paid attention to the YA scene, you know this is not the first book on police brutality published. The Hate U Give and Dear Martin are two other bestsellers. If you loved those, please pick up a copy of Tyler Johnson. You might feel inclined to skip it, but truly, friends, don't. This is a story of violence and oppression. Tyler's murder is a terrible, tragic event, but it's not the only terrible, tragic example of police brutality in the book. Sterling Point has gangs. It has crime. Equally so, it has young teens thrown to the ground and beaten by police officers just for walking into a convenience store while black. This is also a story of love and resistance. What I think is especially powerful about this book, though, is that at it's core it is a story of hope. Marvin faces his reality, eyes open and head high. He sees the racial oppression, and the injustice of it burns him, but he isn't defeated by it. Does the tragic loss of his twin brother affect him? Absolutely. Marvin's grief is profoundly deep. But watching him channel his grief into activism, into a demand for change, was a moving experience. Jay Coles is also an exceptional writer. His prose, at times, it like poetry. Please, friends, experience it with me. When I click off from Johntae, I feel like I'm split into bits. Twins are like synonyms that know each other through and through, like the moon complements the stars through a life sentence, like a set of infinite entities who've seen the world together, experienced its pain and oppression, but I can't help but feel, in this moment, like my world is ending over and over again, like time moves backwards, like the world flashes between black and white and grainy and clear. Poetry, y'all. There is so much I love about Tyler Johnson Was Here. The all-black cast. The friendship between Marvin, Ivy, and G-mo. The gorgeous cover. The power and grace of Marvin's character. How grounded it was, both in today's Black Lives Matter movement, but also in the black American experience throughout this country's history. Not only do I want to immediately hand out copies to every teen activist I know currently, decades from now, I'll still recommend it. It is, in my opinion, required reading. Read this if you're seeking books about... police brutality and Black Live Matters youth activism and protests growing up in poverty single parents/incarcerated parents death, grief, and loss Trigger/Content Warnings for this book... gun violence/police violence death by gunfire racism/racial oppression bullying awful and ineffective adults
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
I added this book to my TBR without a second thought as soon as I read the synopsis. In this day and age, this is definitely a story that needs to be read by everyone. Everyone should have a copy of this in their library, school, home, etc. Marvin and Tyler and twins and although they were starting to go seperate ways, they always drift back together. Tyler decides to go to a party where Marvin knows is nothing but trouble. And because of this, he decides to follow him there just to keep an eye on him. But suddenly, the party gets hectic when there's a gang fight and a police raid. Marvin makes it home, but Tyler doesn't. Marvin has no idea what's happened to his brohter... until a video of him being shot by a cop is posted online. Coles' storytelling was amazing. The plot moved quickly and it was very intense. I found it hard to stop reading at times. Coles pulled me into this story and I found it really difficult to go back to working or whatever else I had to do while reading this. However, I did not like the ending. To me it felt too open ended and I really wanted a concrete ending. Especially with the trial and all that was going on. Like what happened? Was there more protesting? I just think there should have at least been an epilogue or something. Even if the verdict that was given was an unbelievable one. I would've preferred that to nothing. In this day and age this is definitely a story that needs to be told. Over and over again in all these different ways until people GET IT. Thank you Jay Coles for not being afraid to speak out on this issue and creating this amazing story to educate the world on police brutality.
LittleFoxAndReads More than 1 year ago
I don’t usually talk about covers in my review, as they don’t affect my enjoyment, but I just have to say that this might be my most favorite cover. Tyler Johnson was here is a hard-hitting, beautiful book about police brutality, yes, but also about the complex relationship between two brothers, about friendship, about the expectations societies force on us, and escaping those expectations to achieve what others tell us is impossible. This book is similar to The Hate U Give and Dear Martin, in that it explores the realities of black communities and their treatment by authority figures. It is enraging, it is sad and heartbreaking, but it mirrors the realities many face today. It all starts with Marvin’s brother getting involved with the wrong crowd. They both end up at the same party and when that party is raided, all hell breaks loose. His brother goes missing and although Marvin tries to keep positive, he isn’t oblivious to the police brutality against black people. And indeed, just as he had feared, he finds that his brother had been shot by a white cop while unarmed. One of the things that tore me apart about this book was the bond between the brothers; how much they loved each other despite their differences. Grief plays an integral part in Marvin’s search for justice as he struggles to stay aloft after the loss and somehow find away to stop blaming himself. Marvin has to rise above the negative voices that try to bash down his dreams and fight for justice. The main character, Marvin, is an amazing protagonist to follow. He is very sweet and thoughtful. He is self-aware, and his values are set in stone, but his character does develop throughout the book. His two best friends are also great side characters; they are the type of people you wish you had in your life—supportive and understanding. This book was also effortlessly diverse. Aside from it being mostly black characters, one of the best friends is biracial and lesbian, and the other is Hispanic. Not only does it talk about police brutality in an authentic way, but it also touches on stereotyping, media representation, misconception of black men and fatherhood, and many more important topics.