Tyler Johnson Was Here is an experience I found both realistic and painful. It wasn't very verbose--or even eloquent for that matter. But, it was well-written and specific in it's story telling.
Tyler Johnson was here is about a set of twins, Tyler and Marvin. Marvin and Tyler go to a party--a shooting ensues, and Tyler goes missing. Only to later find out, Tyler was killed by a cop on his way home.
An accurate depiction, of the current race-related police brutality issue--that has plagued the African American community for some time.
What works for this novel, is not that it has some predestined plot, with very specifically placed characters--what works is that it's real.
In that regard, the story works for telling an otherwise unheard of story in a real way. Teenagers, and adults alike will feel the pangs of Marvin's grief in ways that will shatter and change you. As authors continue to approach this subject both cautiously, and incautiously, readers will be changed.
Readers will get to know each character, in an intimate way, allowing for a deeper, more intimate connection with the author, the characters and themselves. The book is genius for the fact that it will tug the heart strings--but most importantly, it will open your eyes.
As I'm finally sitting down to right this review, another unarmed black man was killed--and it's a story I feel completely confident and saddened to say won't change, until the world does. Until the world, truly understands that black lives matter--not specifically because we/they are black but in spite of it.
So many reviews talk about how much better THUG was in comparison to this book, because it was more fleshed out--and had better writing.
Please allow this novel to stand on it's own two feet--because it's strong enough do so--despite it's flaws.
THUG was good for what it was good for, but Tyler Johnson Was Here, is not meant to simply be a good novel--that people can have cups of tea, and quietly argumentative discussions of and over.
This book is the gritty version of that novel's story , the version I think people need to hear. The truth in all it's ugliness. The truth hurts but it must be told.
Let me also briefly touch on the "romance," aspect of this novel.
I am literally taking the heaviest of sighs, because I read a review that called the romance insta-lovey, and they totally missed the mark here.
Yes, there is romance that blossoms, but the initial companionship is a shared relationship based on grief. There was an understanding among the characters--loss and the feeling of being misunderstood. It was more about Marvin finding someone he could rely on for comfort, that wasn't in his immediate circle. It wasn't about love, and falling in love immediately.
Again, Tyler Johnson Was Here is a needed story. It's realistic, it's raw and unfiltered. It's not THUG.
No matter which you prefer, focus on what's important here--and that is the black lives matter movement, and the validity, and importance of black lives in general.
Read it, because it's important, because you want to--don't look to it for comparisons--and that's all.