Tyler Johnson Was Here
by Coles, Jay

Accompanying his twin to a party that is thrown into chaos by a shooting, Marvin, a multicultural teen, is horrified when his brother goes missing and is found dead, possibly at the hands of a racist police officer. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

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.

*Starred Review* Coles' unforgettable debut opens with a haunting incident of police brutality that sets the tone for the rest of the book. As Marvin, his twin brother, Tyler, and their best friends exit a convenience store, they are caught in the commotion surrounding a police chase. After the cop viciously beats one of the young men he was pursuing, he draws a gun on Marvin and his group, threatening to shoot as he yells racial hostilities. Guns appear once more when Marvin and Tyler attend a house party and a shooting breaks out, drawing the police. Amidst the chaos, Marvin loses track of his brother, who never comes home. Days afterward, detectives visit Marvin's house and inform him and his mother that Tyler was killed in a gang-related incident; but later, a video surfaces that shows a cop murdering Tyler, proving the detectives' claims false. In the aftermath of Tyler's murder, Marvin must grapple with his grief while also dealing with the social and racial outrage his brother's death sparks. Coles' story offers a glimpse into the injustices, struggles, and pain of being a black male in America. In addition, it crafts an authentic depiction of black life that shatters stereotypes. Its exploration of brotherhood, grief, friendship, and familial ties is as moving and relevant as its exploration of racism. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Coles' debut takes on the heartbreaking outcomes of a broken system of policing. Through language that honors the enraging aspects of life in the inner city, readers meet Marvin and Tyler Johnson, twin high school seniors at a crossroads. Narrator Marvin jokes that their family story can feel like the stereotype for black boys. Their father is in jail, and Mama works extra hard to keep the family stable, leaving room for the influence of the streets to creep into their lives. All this is irrelevant when a police officer shoots Tyler dead after he attends a questionable neighborhood party. This is not the first time that Marvin and his friends have witnessed police violence. They've seen officers lift firearms at children, slam them to the ground, and verbally abuse them, with no consequences. Deep down, Marvin knows that he cannot become the hate that he senses in the world around him. This family's struggle to find resolve, peace, and even a twinge of justice is full of life lessons, including this gem inspired by Auntie Nicola, a former cop: "Life is about wading in the rain, in all the storm's fury...becoming one and the same with the storm-getting angry, getting heated, and being the change you want." Coles, just 21, pens an immersive and uncompromising look at systemic police violence in the U.S. While the author's toolbox has some room for growth, he effectively dramatizes the human experience and ethical questions underpinning today's Movement for Black Lives. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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