TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE BY JAY COLES - BOOK REVIEW

I'm writing this review with a similar reaction to that of Thomas's modern-day classic The Hate U Give. Not only are both these books really well written but they are so so timely and poignant.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles. Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me an ARC of this book, as always all opinions are my own.



The story follows Marvin, a boy whose twin brother, Tyler, goes to a party and never comes home. As Marvin tries to piece together what happened to his brother, his life is flipped in a way he never knew possible. A few days later, Tyler's body is found and a video of a police officer shooting and killing him is leaked online. Marvin grapples with the reality of losing the other half of himself while struggling to get justice for his brother's murder and so many other unarmed teens who are victims of police brutality.

Right away, when this book opened up with the main characters walking into an immediately escalating scene with a police officer, I knew I was in for an emotional ride. I will preface this review by saying that I'm white and my privilege has made it's so that I've never encountered a situation like those portrayed in the novel. But I was struck by how terrifyingly real Coles made these encounters seem in the novel. He masterfully weaves a story of realistic experiences that many continue to face on a daily basis.

I felt like the story itself was really well written and organized, the chapters were on the shorter side which I always appreciate. I really liked how Marvin's character developed throughout the story, he realized a lot about himself that he didn't before and even though it was a result of a horrible tragedy, he was able to, at least partly, piece his life back together. The pacing of the novel was also really well done, and the storyline itself kept me engaged throughout the whole thing. I think I finished reading it in about 2 hours, which is quick for a novel of this length for me, and a big part of that is definitely to do with the pacing.

I know that a lot of people are/will compare this book to Thomas's, which is valuable because they cover similar situations, but they are different books. There is just something so heartbreakingly personal about how Coles creates this story. I know that both authors have been greatly impacted by these events throughout their lives but I think with this story focusing around Marvin's brother, it adds a different perspective - both of which are equally important. I think what I'm trying to get at here is that even if you've read THUG, still read this one and vice versa. Both are poignant takes on real-life issues and both should be read.

This novel really is about the characters. There is the 'mystery' of whether or not Tyler will get justice, and I think Coles has created the perfect ending. This isn't a novel about finding out the whys or the hows, but the whos and the whats. It isn't so much about how the story ends as it is about what happens after the story ends.

Overall, a really important read that I highly, highly recommend!