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Reviews from Readers

“The reader will want to disbelieve what’s about to happen, and John Young, the author, builds to this ferocious climax with such immense skill, that you realize you’re in the hands and mind of a great psychologist.

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Daniel Brown


“This is the kind of book the end of which saddens the reader. It’s not that the finale isn’t optimistic; rather, when I turned that last page, I missed Jason. Young brings his reader so close to his protagonist that one can feel Jason’s curly hair. We come to know Jason as we know a best friend. And it’s awful uttering that permanent, last-page good-by.

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Connie Shakalis

Bloomington Herald Times

“The story is sometimes sweet, often poignant, and frequently funny. You find yourself rooting for Jason, hoping his choices will work out. The heroes and villains are all satisfyingly complex and multi-dimensional.” 

Cynthia Smith

Wyoming Living Magazine

“It is a rare coming-of-age-novel that strikes an elegiac tone—the trembling anticipation of youth, a decidedly modern hero’s journey, in combination with a grief-struck plunge into conscience—but John Young pulls it off. This novel, like its main character, makes its way from early promise to settled accomplishment, from a staggering opening to a quiet self-acceptance that seems wholly earned—and leaves a reader grateful.”

James Carroll

National Book Award Winner and author of The Cloister

“An abusive father keeps his son—and the reader—in suspense in When the Coin is in the Air, a well-told coming -of age tale.”

Dan Wakefield

author of Going All The Way and New York in the Fifties

“I appreciated reading this book because it took me deeply into Jason’s personal history and psychology. … I found much that was relatable, simply because it was deeply human. I’m grateful John Young wrote this book. When the Coin is in the Air is a novel that will stay with you.” 

Kelly Blewett

NPR affiliate WVXU

“I loved John Young’s wise and moving novel. A young man is forced to navigate the difficult choices of early adulthood while protecting his own life and his mother’s from a violent, abusive father. Reminiscent of the novels of Pat Conroy, When the Coin is in the Air explores the complexities of the pull between duty and self-determination, tempered by love.”

Susan Neville

author of Invention of Flight and The House of Blue Lights

From Cincinnati Magazine: Oct. 2019

Top 5 Local Books…

The story of a son struggling to find his way, When the Coin is in the Air is a powerful debut from novelist and Cincinnati local John Young. Focused on Jason Blake and his relationship with his father and competitive older brother, the plot follows Jason as he attempts to gain independence, eventually leaving his hometown to find excitement in Cape Cod and later in Europe. When he finally returns home, nothing is the same, and he must risk everything to protect his mother from his abusive father. Released to high praise, When the Coin is in the Air is a beautiful, haunting story that you will not want to miss.

“When the Coin is in the Air is a riveting story of adversity, destruction and transcendence. John Young weaves a gritty but ultimately uplifting tale, sure to speak to anyone who has wrestled with demons. From the start, Young’s debut novel will grab you, and it won’t let you go.”

Don Tassone

author of Drive