Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Courageous by Corey Jay Johnson is entered as urban fiction, a category that fits the book neatly, a story that is, according to the author, loosely based on the life of Avon “Flubber”Johnson Sr. Raised by a single mom, young Flubber grows up in the streets of Baltimore. He quickly takes to the streets, where he soon becomes attracted to drugs and lowlife. He quickly builds himself a reputation associated with drugs and develops an uncontrollable addiction. With a band of friends, he establishes his own fiefdom and rises as a drug lord. Then he hits rock bottom and is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness; to his great dismay, he has HIV. Can he live life the way he wants anymore, or will he allow himself the chance for redemption?
This is a great story and I was extremely taken by the way the author handled the transformation that takes place within the protagonist. This novel has a lot of beautiful lessons and here is one that kept me thinking: We can play with life, but we can’t have reason over it. It always triumphs. The writing is beautiful and I loved how Corey Jay Johnson captured the reality of the color line and the consciousness that black kids grew up with. There are numerous dramatic moments in the book and they are accompanied by relevant social and cultural commentaries. The social issues are woven into the story well. Courageous features very compelling characters, strong and relevant themes like family, crime, social conflict, and redemption, and a powerful, empowering message of hope.