aka YA Literature

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Title: Tyrell
Author: Coe Booth
Rating: C+

This month, School Library Journal did a cover story on Street Lit; since I had never really read anything in this genre, I scanned their recommended list and decided to read Coe Booth's Tyrell.

Tyrell is the story of a teenage boy growing up homeless with this mother and younger brother on the streets of New York. With his father in prison, Tyrell must step up and be the man of the family. Although his mother wants him to sell drugs to earn money for the family, Tyrell, instead, decided to DJ a massive party. While Tyrell works to organize this party (mostly through illegal doings), he must also work to balance his love interests and family needs.

The Good: I'm sure many urban teens would have an easy time relating to Tyrell's situation; I'm also sure that many non-urban teens would love this story merely for the "coolness" factor (probably in the same way that gangsta' rap is so popular in suburban American.) I also liked the fact that the author made the main character rather strong; although he has definite flaws, his continued effort to support his younger brother and his complete refusal to partake in drug dealing served to make him a somewhat unlikely hero.

The Bad: Anyone in a library where harsh language, poor grammar, and/or graphic situations could be a problem will probably want to stay away from this book. I also had a little bit of a problem with the book's portrayal of domestic abuse; although brief, it's almost as though the main character thinks it's a husband's responsibility to keep his wife in her place. Finally, although the book does provide an good view into the mind of young urban American, for the most part the actual plot is extremely weak.