2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
Tyrell is a young, African American teen who can't get a break. He's living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father's in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn't feel good enough for her and seems to be always on the verge of doing the wrong thing around her. There's another girl at the homeless shelter who is also after him, although the desires there are complicated. Tyrell feels he needs to score some money to make things better. Will he end up following in his father's footsteps?
"In her first novel, set in a Brooklyn ghetto, Booth conveys the frustration of a teenager who is trying to lead a better life despite all the pressures to do otherwise. Narrator 15-year-old Tyrell is in love with Novisha ('that's the only thing I got going for me right now') and dreams of the two living together. However Tyrell faces some major challenges. With his father in jail for the third time, Tyrell is homeless. He's living temporarily at the roach-infested Bennett Motel ('got rats the size of cats and shit'), sharing a room with his mother and little brother, Troy. He needs a way to make some money, but he wants to be sure it's legal: 'I get locked up, Troy gonna end up back in the system.' Using his father's DJ equipment, Tyrell forms a plan that could bring in a good chunk of money and get them back in an apartment. Using the voice of an inner-city teen, Booth keeps the story focused on Tyrell and his ups and downs as he struggles to do the right thing, and keeps the plot developments realistic especially Tyrell's relief after his brother is taken by the Administration for Children's Services, allowing him the opportunity of freedom ('Back home to the projects. Where I belong'). Tyrell's frank talk about sex may be offensive for some readers, but only adds to his character's credibility. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]ouching...surprising...fast-paced...gritty and gripping first novel." The New York Times Book Review
"This is a thrilling, fast-paced novel whose strong plot and array of vivid, well-developed characters take readers on an unforgettable journey through the gritty streets of New York City's South Bronx." School Library Journal (starred review)
"Booth clearly understands how teens living on the edge...live, talk and survive. It's the slick street language of these tough but lovable characters and her gritty landscapes that will capture the interests of urban fiction fans." Kirkus Reviews
"Unlike many books reflecting the contemporary street scene, this one is more than just a pat situation with a glib resolution; it's filled with surprising twists and turns that continue to the end." Booklist
"Despite the grim setting evoked by the sensory prose, this isn't a story of violence and drugs; rather, it concerns the more intimate deprivations (and moments of connection) of living poor." Hornbook Guide to Children
The protagonist of this astonishing debut is a young, African-American teen who can't get a break. Tyrell is living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. He feels he needs to score some money to make things better. Will he end up following in his father's footsteps? 320 p.
About the Author
Coe Booth finished writing Tyrell while she was enrolled in a Creative Writing MFA program at the New School. She graduated in 2005 and now works as a full-time writer and part-time professor. She also volunteers for the NAACP ACT-SO Program, mentoring teen writers.