Tyler Johnson Was Here
Tyler Johnson Was Here

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Annotation: When Marvin Johnson's twin brother, Tyler, is shot and killed by a police officer, Marvin must fight injustice to learn the true meaning of freedom.
Catalog Number: #160424
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 299 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-44077-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1161-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-44077-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1161-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017027423
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Living amid violence is an unfortunate reality for African American twins Marvin and Tyler. After a shootout at a party, Marvin is left to deal with the heartbreaking aftermath of Tyler's disappearance and subsequent death at the hands of police. Poverty, police brutality, and gang violence are held in equal tension and intensity in this poignant story about brotherhood, friendship, death, and resilience.
Kirkus 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)
Publishers Weekly
Cole-s debut novel, based on events in his own life, follows Marvin Johnson, a college-bound senior at Alabama-s Sojourner Truth High School. From the opening pages, Marvin and his twin brother, Tyler, navigate racism, drug dealers, and police violence, their lives governed by the -talk that all decent black mothers and fathers give to their children at least once a month. The You-Live-in-a-White-Man-s-World-So-Be-Careful talk.- Marvin-s life takes a turn from hanging out with his -high-ability geek- friends, doing homework, and binge-watching A Different World when a party ends in a shoot-out, a police raid, and Tyler-s disappearance. Periodic letters from Marvin-s imprisoned father convey a poignant vulnerability, while Marvin-s penetrating narrative voice captures the relentless anxiety and questioning that accompanies every choice he faces, from how to address Tyler-s friendship with a local drug dealer to how to behave when witnessing police beat an innocent black teenager. It-s a distressing yet empowering portrait of a black teenager confronting relentless racism, brutality, and tragedy. Ages 14-up. Agent: Lauren Abramo, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Mar.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*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.
Word Count: 60,088
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 197246 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: HL800L

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.

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