Tyler Johnson Was Here

Coles, J. (2018). Tyler Johnson Was Here. NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Jay Coles writes from the heart, he writes well (every sentence is handsomely and seductively infused with Black culture), and he has produced 2018’s fast-paced picture of American police brutality, of the systematic corruption rampant in its justice system, and of how racism impacts and traps people.


What a compelling cover!

Trevor Johnson is shot by a white policeman simply for the colour of his skin – all of this caught on videotape – leaving a grieving mother and twin brother, who together make their way through each day even though their grief is overwhelmingly painful and raw.

So many powerful women! Such diversity! So many great quotes!

‘‘The human heart is like a sponge. There’s a way to squeeze out all the hurt you don’t want. And somewhere in that hurting heart of yours,’’ she says, ‘‘you’ll find some strength to go on.’’

‘‘I tell myself that I love this skin, that I’ve always loved my blackness, that if the world doesn’t love me, I will love myself for the both of us.”

“I prayed for twenty years. Nothing happened until I got off my knees and started marching with my feet.”

“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, because sometimes it never does – and all of a sudden I feel waves of emotion engulfing me. Life is about wading in the rain, in all the storm’s fury, holding on to hope, and also becoming one and the same with the storm – getting angry, getting heated, and being the change you want.”

This book, this story needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, agendas, and hearts.

Jay Coles is a MG and YA author. He lives in Indianapolis where he is a teacher, blogger, composer/musician and a proud member of ASCAP!

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