Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles

https://www.amazon.com/Tyler-Johnson-Was-Here-Coles/dp/0316440779

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 3/18/19- 3/19/19

This book discusses Black Lives Matter. I am going to avoid being too political, so I am going to not be going too in-depth for my thought process on this one, but I do want to post about the book. If that is going to bother you, feel free to check out any of my other reviews, I’m not going to judge.

This book follows Marvin Johnson, a high school senior in urban Alabama. He and his twin brother, Tyler, along with their friends G-mo and Ivy, get caught coming home from a store and are immediately assumed by the police to have stolen something. And as insane as this sounds, this happens a few times in the beginning of this book. From there, they go to a party that ends in gunshots. While Marvin makes it home, Tyler doesn’t. And when Marvin finds Tyler dead, a video shows a police officer shooting the defenseless boy 3 times. The latter half of this book discusses how you move on after something like this happens.

For the sake of avoiding the political argument that will make me even more of an outcast in my hometown, I am going to talk specifically about this book and the situations that are brought up in this book, and not any other event that may have occurred in reality.

This book discusses how easily cops see black teenagers and automatically assume they are up to no good. There is a stereotype that black teenagers are drug dealers, thugs, or something else on the negative end of the spectrum. Marvin, Ivy, Tyler, and G-mo are all incredibly bright kids who had to have the talk about how you talk to the police before the birds and the bees talk. No matter what, the amount of melanin in their skin feels more like a death sentence than a mark of royalty. In a lot of ways, I never really thought this was something that actually happened in today’s society. But the more literature I read, the heavier the reality of this situation settles. I want to thank Jay Coles for making this particular comment about society.

As for the storyline itself, I feel a little cheated. I know this is supposed to be a “typical” story for this type of event, but I literally read almost the exact same storyline in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. And while the relationships are slightly different, they are just too congruous for my liking. I would have preferred to have heard any other storyline other than this particular one that still encouraged Black Lives Matter, but that may be nitpicking.

As for a rating, maybe 4.5 out of 5? Like I absolutely loved The Hate U Give, and while there is nothing wrong with this book, it just didn’t match how my feelings for that book. At the same type, this is an important facet of literature today, and I recommend anyone and everyone to read books that discuss Black Lives Matter (also check out Dear Martin by Nic Stone).

If you have any thoughts on the review, feel free to leave a comment. And as always, if you want to talk to me privately, feel free to e-mail me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. Thanks for reading, and I will see you all at the next book!

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